tv 2013 National Book Awards CSPAN December 1, 2013 8:25am-9:46am EST
book foundation. >> guest: thanks so much for having me. >> host: thanks so much. [inaudible conversations] the book awards tonight, what do you think about that? >> guest: i'm so excited, and my assistant, emily cassidy, is a budding writer, ask she is so excited to be here and nearly fainted when she found out i was introducing toni morrison. >> i did. >> host: what are you most excited about? >> guest: the event as a whole. i've come here a few times with my cohost, and it's so exciting to see books celebrated. and all kinds of books, e-books and every type of books the way they make them now. and to see the industry still nourishing in a very, very tough market is great. my cohost has a book out right now -- hi -- so we've been on book tour for the past two weeks, so i'm in the mood. >> host: but you're an author too, and you've been on booktv as well. >> guest: i have.
i'm talking with david steinberger about a companion book to knowing your value which is my second book which is great for women. we're looking for a knowing your value millennial edition. so hopefully, i'll be back next year. >> ladies and gentlemen, mika bear zip sky. >> good evening. how's everyone tonight? the beautiful. i'm mika brzezinski, cohost of "morning joe," and i'm deeply honored to be here tonight. i'm also very excited to say this to you uninterrupted. welcome to the 64th national book awards. i got through it. it's the oscars of the book world, or as fran leibowitz once
called them, the oscars without money. but we'll take 'em. [laughter] so i have a very close connection to this evening's awards. just last month we had the honor of having david steinberger, the chairman of the national book foundation, on our show, on "morning joe," to announce the national book foundation finalists. as a three-time author myself, i know firsthand what an incredible undertaking it is to write a book and the nightmare scenario that it poses on members of the family. [laughter] i'm so impressed by all tonight's honorees. nominees. so on "morning joe" we're very proud to give authors the platform be to discuss their work withs and the "morning joe" book pounce bounce which is fantastic on amazon. we've even started a book club for nonfiction reading, and we hope to have a lot of the finalists on the show very soon.
as we gatt -- gather this year, this is a lot of news and seclation in the book world. random house and penguin american merged this year, and when they did, there was a lot of hope especially in the alternative rock world that the new company would be called random penguins. [laughter] they decided to call it penguin/random house, but looking around the room i've seen a lot of writers stuffed in these tuxedos, and they maybe should have called it random penguins. [laughter] just saying. you look handsome. the giants of the digital book industry are here tonight, barnes and noble, amazon, cobo, apple. and it's been another banner year for tingal books -- digital books with the exception of any e-books that had to be downloaded from healthcare.gov. [laughter] low blow. in fact, while i'm at it, i just
heard that president obama was shopping a new book called "how to work with congress," and it will be eligible for next year's fiction category. [laughter] it hurts so badly. [laughter] but we're here tonight to celebrate writers and realizers and every one of you in the industry who bring them together and the excellent work that you all do. as a reader and a writer, i applaud all your hard work whether it's books on paper or anything else, books still make the world interesting and exciting and and wonderful, and where would our world be without them? so since this is an awards program celebrating the best books of the year, let's move right on into it. i come from the world of "morning joe, "but "morning joe"
is not here, so we're going to be on time tonight. we're not going to be interrupted, and we're not going to go long. i have to be up at three a.m., so i'll be at the forefront of this. let's begin. so to present the literarian award for outstanding to the american literary community, we have tonight toni morrison. [cheers and applause] toni morrison needs no introduction. i'll try this. one of the greatest novelists in american history, winner of the nobel prize in literature, recipient of the presidential medal of freedom, recipient of the national book foundation's medal for distinguished contribution to american letters and host of other honors, a host of other honors. it gives me great pleasure to welcome toni morrison. [applause] ♪
but this is important to me, and i am really delighted. it's great, and it's a personal pleasure to honor a friend, an artist and a legend. when i sat down to to gatt err my thoughts -- gather my thoughts about what i could say about maya angelou, the first one was the fact that in spite of her truly outrageous talents, she doesn't summon envy, that routine jealousy and putdown that artists as famous as she are accustomed to. instead, maya angelou inspires delight as well as awe.
her reputation sparkles well gans, generosity -- with elegance, generosity, humor, strength, clean honesty, compassion, and dare i say wisdom. my son died one christmas, and the very first non-family voice i heard on the phone was maya. with that unmistakeable voice of sheer -- [inaudible] i can't omit the pleasure of her company. with so much toxicity around in this world, a celebratory social life she offers her friends and colleagues is a blessing.
and trust me, maya can cook. [laughter] i knew her at random house where she published her first book, "i know why the caged bird sings." the autobiography was immensely popular, of course, but more than that it had breadth and meaning, and i don't recall any woman writer more insightful or more courageous describing her life. and equally important, it gave license to a host of other african-american writers. it opened the door to our inside, our interior minus the white gaze or sanction. interestingly, its publication
in 1969 neither began nor completed maya's work. just think of this as a curriculum vista; journalist writing for the arab observer andgy nay yang times in 1960, 1961. playwright, screenwriter, film director this 1960, 1966, 1967, 1978 -- '76. activist, coordinator at the request of martin luther king for sclc, 1-9d 68. cooperation with malcolm x to build the organization for african-american unity in 1964.
actress, "roots," 1977. "poetic justice," 1993. "the blacks," 1960. narrater, writer of documentaries, '68, '72, '75, '76, '82. 1980, dancer, singer, dancing with alvin -- [inaudible] student of pearl rye miss, 1954 and '58. yes, author of eight biographies, 1969 to this year, to '13. poet, ten collections of poetry. 1971, 1995. professor, wake forest university reynolds professor of american studies. i left out much. children's stories, essays,
recordings and albums. but anyone or two of these accomplishments could account for the esteem in which maya angelou is held. but all of them, the list is truly humbling. in spite of a childhood of wounds and obstacles that would break or paralyze many of us, suffering energized and strengthened her. and along with good counsel, determination and resistance, her creative impulse struck like bolts of lightning. her example is not one of survival, it truly is one of triumph.
takes one to know one. and i'm grateful. i know that toni is all of that, and i know that you are, all of you literary folks, amazing. i mean, amazing that you've chosen to give me a gift, an honorary -- i mean, to honor me. and i'm so pleased. it's amazing. i know that you're all writers, and i'm delighted that you've chosen to not only honor me, but to ask ms. toni morrison to honor me and honor you. and that's who you are. there's an old statement, an old statement that says --
♪ when it looked like the sun would not shine anymore, god put a rainbow in the clouds ♪ >> amazing. [cheers and applause] amazing. the statement was inspired by a statement in genesis. it says that rain has persisted so unrelentingly that people thought it would never cease. so in an attempt to put the people at ease, god put a rainbow in the sky. that's in genesis. but in the 20th century -- i'm sorry, 19th century, some
african-american poet, maybe a woman with i'm not sure about that, but -- [laughter] she said, no, god didn't just put a rainbow in the sky, god put a rainbow in the clouds. in the clouds. we know that suns and moons and stars and all sorts of illuminations are always this ie sky, in the illumination. however, clouds can so persist that people can't see a change in the possibility of in the sky, in the clouds. and here we are. here you are. amazing. you are rainbows in my clouds. it's a blessing that you have
decided to be a rainbow in my cloud, that you have decided to whether i deserved it or not -- [laughter] you have decided to honor me, ask i'm grateful to you. i'm grateful to toni morrison. i'm grateful to bob loomis, my editor -- [applause] for over 40 years, other 40 years -- over 40 years, imagine it, i have tried to tell the truth as i understand it in prose. amazingly. i don't know. i know that there's a difficulty in trying to write prose.
i know that you know all of that, and you're smarter than many of us here. i know that you know all of that. however, there's a possibility that when you use a few nouns and pronouns and some incredible poetry -- you know what it means. it's very hard. i think you know that easy reading is damned hard writing. [laughter] but you know all of that, was you are literary folks, and you know that. and i've been trying to tell the truth as far as i understand it. not -- i didn't try to tell everything i know -- [laughter] but i've tried to tell the
truth. and you have, you have honored me this evening. i'm so grateful. i'm so appreciative. my sons and daughters and some of them are black and white and asian and spanish-speaking and native american and fat and thin and pretty and plain -- [applause] you know? and gay and straight. but i've tried to tell the truth. so since you have honored me, i can't say enough to say thank you. and i thank you, i thank toni morrison, and i thank you for realizing how important she is and how important we are to each other. seem live in direct -- people live in direct correlation to the heroes and sheroes they
have, and i thank you for honoring me. thank you. [applause] ♪ ♪ [applause] >> wow. and now to present the medal for distinguished contribution to american letters is victor nabaske. he's one of american journalism's great treasures. longtime editor and publisher of "the nation," he is author of six books including the national book award-winning "naming names." he is della court professor of magazines as columbia
university's graduate school of journalism, director of the george t. della court center and chairman of the columbia journalism review. it gives me great pleasure to introduce victor. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> well, i'm floating on maya angelou's cloud. i love offed that, what i just heard. and let me say when i was asked to introduce my good friend e.l. doctorow this evening, i was honored to be asked and said yes because i have such admiration for his books, his plays and his other writings, his short stories. but on reflection, it has occurred to me that edgar has won more awards than are good
for him. [laughter] among them, the national book award, the saul bellow award for achievement in american function, a national humanities medal bestowed by president clinton this 988 -- in 1988 and a gold medal bestowed by the american academy of arts and letters. i thought that he should be home instead of spending his time going to evenings like this, he should be home writing his novels. and short stories better than the out accepting another award this evening that would divert him from his more important work. so that was my second thought after the first thought of being honored to introduce him. then i remembered that nothing diverts him from his work with. his work. once my wife annie and i took a
vacation with edgar and helen, the love of him life whom he -- his life whom he calls captain tidy because she keeps cleaning up after him. [laughter] we went to some island in the caribbean. those were the days before computers came along, so at six in the morning we would hear edgar's typewriter clacking away. and i knew from the days when he worked as an editor-in-chief at dial press where his writers included among ore toes norman mailer, james baldwin and william kennedy that one should never call his home in new rochelle before six a.m. not because you would wake up edgar, helen or one of their three extraordinary children, but because you would disturb him in the middle of his work. because he put this two hours a day writing his novel before he took, got on the commuter train
to new york. for his day job. and it's not merely that as a writer he will always manage to find time to write, but that rather than put these awards in a fancy display case, when he does take time off from his own writing as often as not he uses his present prestigious celebrity to advance the cause of the artist in society. for example, when he testified before congress on behalf of the national endowment for the arts, he eloquently told congress why it would be a big mistake to condition new grants on writers behaving themselves politically which congress as was then disposed to do. here is just some of what he had to say. this is a quote from edgar
testifying before congress. any legislative condition put on an artist's speech no matter how intemp rate or pod rate -- moderate, no matter how vague, no matter how intemp rate or moderate, no matter how vague or specific means you publish a dictionary with certain words deleted from the language. it means you lay out a pallete with certain colors struck from the spectrum. do you really want to do this? does congress in its wisdom really believe that keeping words and blacking them out and e racing portions -- erasing portions of the tape is what is needed to save this republic? it's bad not only for artists, it's bad for us all. now, you don't need me to talk to you about his extraordinary books and why they deserve this
honor, this honor that he's receiving this evening. "the book of daniel," "rag time," homer and langley," each of which -- and his other works -- each of which is different from the last, not to mention the next book, "andrew's brain," which will, if you will use the expression, blow your mind. but i will mention his first published fiction. it was called "the beetle." i'm not sure how old he was when he wrote it. it was inspired not by ringo sta and john lennon -- starr and john lennon, but rather by metamorphosis. i mention it only because when he was asked about it many years later, he described it to an interviewer with typical modesty and wry wit as an act of et my
logical self-defamation, the beetles, cough ca. you got it. [laughter] although this evening we celebrate edgar's fiction, his stories, you should know that he went through kenyan college where he majored in philosophy and studied with john ransom, the poet and new critic. this experience has not been lost on edgar. don't take my word for it, but do read the essay he wrote for "the nation" called "a citizen reads the constitution" in which he considers this country's fundamental document as a critic would a literary text. in this case, what he calls the sacred text of secular humanism, the constitution being the sacred text of secular humanism.
a seem's text. -- a seem's text. -- a people's text. i don't know what, if anything, edgar will have to say this evening, but i want to share with you the fact that some years ago when he was asked if he would introduce -- when i was asked -- just a minute. i want to say to to you that some years ago when he was asked by george columnton who interviewed him for one of paris review's famous interviews, he was asked about -- he told the story about a befuld be led -- befuddled woman. he was interviewed at the 92nd street y, and a befuddled woman got up during the question period. her first question for doctorow from the terror was what made you write about the firestorm at
dress densome doctorow politely informed her that she probably had kurt vonnegut's slaughterhouse five in hind and that the dresden firestorm had been done so beautiful beautifully, there was little reason for anyone else to try. the point here is doctorow's attitude. it leaves one only origin alter story to explore -- original territory to explore which is what he has done with all his work. he's been asked if he has a reader in mind when he sits down to write, and he has replied, no. it's just a matter of language, of living in sentences. there's no room for a reader in your mind. you don't think of anything but the language you're in. well, edgar, i have fuse -- news for you, you may not have us in mind, but you're in a room full
evening, i thought to say something about what was lately on my mind, what is on all our minds whether we know it or not. something that has swept through our lives and taken us up in ways that are useful and even spectacular, but also worrisome. and so ubiquitous and loomingly present in everything we do, the way we communicate and take care of ourselves and find things out and look to be entertained, well, that would have to be the internet. so to begin, i want to congratulate those short-listed content providers here this evening -- [laughter] the world wild web was conceived -- worldwide web was conceived as a somewhat academic thing, but its years of development since the '80s have seemed to me the work of
the moment. coming into being as an astronomical event, a virtual world as a companion planet in or orbital swing with our own. and its stuff, its substance -- not mountains and seas and deserts and mounting iceberg withs, but information, data, knowledge in every form of every kind transmitted for every purpose, personal, governmental, commercial, educational, political. it is a companion world mined to create wealth, to educate, the bring news, to spy, to save lives, to make war. but my odd sense of it is something exploded into being has to do with the population putting itself eagerly into its arcane service as immigrants swearing -- [inaudible] to a new world. the techieses, the programmers, the webmasters, the security
experts, the hackers. almost as if it appeared -- as it appeared, it created the people necessary to main tape it. maintain it. and you wonder or i wonder what if there was no internet? what would these people have done with their lives? [laughter] it was as if they were born for the virtual, so promptly and efficiently did they bond with it, work out its kinks and deduce its possibilities. and this world of theirs is a world of simulation. clearly evidenced by its language. never mind that text is now a verb -- [laughter] more radically, a search engine is not an engine, a last form is not a platform, a bookmark is not a bookmark because an e-book is not a book. [laughter] and a cookie is not a chocolate
man is, in fact, a recording, and the universe is the possibility of being reported. so he would appreciate the intimate. universe is the possibility of being reports just as -- infinite surprise. and he might, after a drink or two, think of global internet activity as a kind of oversoul. on my part i think less mystically of an over brain. you will find in the relevant wikipedia entry -- yes, wikipedia entry, a visualization of routing paths through a portion of the internet. what makes the picture and can is a might easily be mistaken for a cross section of the brain, of a human brain. so can we expect from internet
infinite manifestations of human genius and human inadequacy? i think so. for everybody vantage the internet devices force, there is a disadvantage. for a wide web algorithm breakthrough that shows us how to reduce pollution, for example, there is an algorithm for the quantification of persons in the data. we are in everything we do. our predilection, our relations with others, our physical qualities, psychic conditions or political beliefs, what we buy, what movies we watch, what books we read, if any, anything and everything about us broken down into data, the life substance of the companion world in cyberspace, mind and in faces expeditions the name of commerce for government surveillance. for the use of corporations and excited police departments, you
can call if quantification. in the '60s we called it -- reification. the kind of dehumanizing. so turns out the prophetic store for all of this oddly enough is the fiction story from the bronze age, telling of the consequences coming from eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. so like all worlds, the virtual comes with the seventh and its hell. what does this mean for all of us in this room we writers and their publishers? we don't want to give up the presumably inconveniencing we do, something as old as paginated narrative. we don't want to lose heart as did frank ignores, the author of naturalistic works of fiction in the late 19th century, the octopus, mcteague. noris the spirit of the western
union telegram. 10 words and stop. the twitter of its day. he feared it was the end of letter root discourse. people could express themselves completely in 10 words the human mind would eventually be inaccessible to works of 100,000 words. and so the end of literary discourse, that was noris' idea. he also played the typewriter was an enemy of creativity, and how much more was imported to a sutton's written by hand rather than by machine. we don't want to be today's noris. a silly fellow, he was. there are those today who think writing on the computer is the death of great fiction. writers thrive on adversity and have ever since god stopped writing and humans took over the task. but tha there are internet dynas that you challenges. in fact, there's concerns about
interactivity, one of the web world's waving flags, the techies don't want to know that reading the book is the essence of interactivity. where the readers life flows through the senses as through an electric circuit animating those senses and bring them to life in the mind so that it is only when a book is read that it is completed. nothing else is as interactive as that, and the book is written in silence and read in silence. another advantage in our noisy world. integrity of the mine is maintained, but the ability to live in an extended discourse. so that isn't the problem, nor is the major problem the undercutting of office copyright and pirating of text equivalent to what's happened to musicians, although that is a problem. he may have read a few days ago the results of a survey conducted by 10.
not only that american writers were it not been target of government surveillance, but that could a significant portion of writers who are engaging in self-censorship by avoiding research on certain controversial topics, choose not to engage in sensitive conservation and decline to to particular topics and stories in pursuit of particular topics and stories when doing so might lead to scrutiny by the u.s. government. so it's begun. that's slowly gathering ghostly darkness coming off the of the world, technology, the kind of chinese like darkness maybe. we will call it the first step down the stairs to the internet world's l. hard to believe as we gather to this evening, flourishing, a flourishing example of western democracy, but the struggle has begun as to who will rule the
web world. they did miners or anyone else? we will have to take a deep breath, as ourselves, and reluctantly or not join the struggle. i don't have to remind us that everyone in this room is in the free speech business. thank you for your kind attention and my congratulations again to the wonderful shortlisted writers who are here this evening. thank you. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> that was beautiful. thank you, sir. i'm almost frightened to ask this question.
how many of you here tweet lacks anybody? i got one there. any others? there is a hashtag. okay. nb awards. we now invite you to enjoy dinner, and we will return of course for the continuation of the national book awards ceremony. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ good evening. on behalf of the board of directors of national book foundation, it's my first welcome you to the 64th annual national book awards. that's my privilege to do this for the last seven years, but
i've never done it was such a large crowd. we have more than 700 people here today. i thank each of you for being here for this special event. [applause] spent one of the things that makes this evening so special is that tonight are literally stars come out. we have incredible writers, some of our greatest writers. i'm going to mention a few of them. i'm going to ask you to hold your applause until we get to the list but it will be hard as it's an amazing list. we have with us tonight was a national book award, edward ball. of course, e.l. doctorow, mark doty, nikky finney, annette gordon-reed, marianne hoberman, jane kramer, philip levine, victor navasky, ronald steel and jasmine ward. pulitzer prize winners michael
cunningham, alan taylor and lawrence wright, macarthur fellow george saunders, winner of the national book critics award, and leeann. and, of course, the recipient of the presidential medal of freedom, toni morrison and maya angelou. please recognize these great writers with me. [applause] >> i'd like to thank our financial supporters. again, please hold applause and let me get to the list. premier sponsors barnes & noble, inc. when random house and the ford foundation, leadership sponsors david drummond, and
sponsors amazon, the bar foundation, google, lavender, macmillan, thank you for your support. couldn't do it without you. [applause] >> like to acknowledge in the audience something special. the winners of our fifth annual innovations in reading prize. our organization is about recognizing great writing and encouraging the great books producer or decisions that helped make i it happen. if you are reading is the way up. little free library based in wisconsin has established exchanges in over 7000 locations around the world. i think women example of one in the back over here. you can take a look at.
also we have any sample, they build portable structures. the price projects to you about this one. based in vancouver, washington, challenges young underprivileged teenagers to read by providing them with banned books. some of our greatest books are banned by authors like mark twain, kurt vonnegut and ernest hemingway and finally world leader based in seattle, washington, provide e-books to poor children in southern africa. is over delivered over 480,000 books 10,000 children are now read more and better than ever before. i'm going to ask the winners of the innovations in reading prize to stand and be recognized. let's give them some recognition for this great work here. [applause]
>> of years ago people didn't think we're serious with the national book awards added an after party. as many of you know now, it's become this hot topic. the first time we did it it was oversubscribed so when i announced that i couldn't anyone where it was. but i said if you want to go eat got to hunt down morgan and see if you can get him to tell you. we figured out now that we need a lot of space but we do it right here upstairs but everyone is invited. i have to think that after party sponsor, after party committee, our spirited after party committee, rachel, i'll -- paul.
a few more people to thank. just want to thank our host mika brzezinski and joe scarborough for having me on "morning joe." special thanks for dinner co-chairs who have over the past four years truly transform this dinner. if you came to this dinner more than four years ago you know what i'm talking about. thank you, thank you. [applause] and finally, need to acknowledge the national book foundation's terrific staff, our tireless director carol, my colleagues on the board of directors have been terrific. and am half of the foundation, good luck to all of our finalists tonight, and on to the awards ceremony. ♪
♪ >> okay, are we ready? that dessert was yummy. it's now time for what we've all been waiting for, the actual national book awards ceremony. the order of the award categories will be this. young people's literature, poetry. nonfiction, and then fiction. so to present the national book award in young people's literature is e. lockhart. e. lockhart was a finalist for the 2008 national book award of young people's literature for her novel the disreputable history of frankie, which was also an award on the book and received an award for best young adult novel. our most recent book, real-life
boyfriend, the fourth book in the series, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce e. lockhart ♪ ♪ [applause] >> everyone in this room, you are here because once upon a time you fell in love with a book. if it happened at three, perhaps it was a snow day. is at eight, perhaps harriet the spy. if at 14, perhaps the outsiders. in any case, it was probably a children's book. the young people's literature category is a category of books that make readers life. books that are read over and over. i am proud to serve on the
committee. and writer, editor and graphic novelist. [cheers and applause] >> we searched for books that resonated with us both intellectually and emotionally, long after the first read. we chose books we felt were modern classics, that we believe readers will clutch to the chest and adore. books that will make readers for life. the finalists in the young people lyric category are --
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> hi. i don't have a speech because i'm wildly, wildly superstitious and i thought it would be bad law. so maybe i did the right thing. i just wanted to thank everyone at simon & schuster at every level and every step of the way. they have really incredibly great people. my editor, i don't think there's a better editor in new york because that would just be impossible. john anderson, and justin for
being so supportive of the team and the writers. russell gordon who designed the cover. paul and his team. gene to save me from total investment of a time she worked on one of my books. my fact is that this agent, and i just want to say to sammy and george, if you here, and you inspire every breath i take. thank you. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> okay. to present the national book award for poetry is nikky finney. [applause] she is the author of four books of poetry, had often split which won the 2011th national book
award in poetry. the world is round, and on wings made of god. she reflexively position of the chair in southern letters and literature at the university of south carolina. it is my pleasure to introduce nikky finney. [applause] ♪ >> good evening everybody. i stand before you on behalf of the amazing poetry judges that make up this year's panel. thank you, the world has no idea of the deep respect and adoration i now have on your curiosity, and your abiding willingness to listen and make
decisions in the great and sweet name of poetry. so it is in the spirit of william carlos williams, robert penn warren, audrey -- audrey and rich, marianne moore, lucille clifton, ruth stone, jean valentine. i and terrence hays, that i share with you back in june of 2013 they began arriving at our door like eggs. 12, sometimes six, sometimes to to a garden and a box. poetry books, fragile, the in beside each other so friendly. not resembling competitors but rather something we could pick
up, take out comedy, and as a result, live forever. some arrived in the old, old way as if sent from the great butcher shop on the corner, wrapped with great crates and brown butcher paper, the edges carefully taped down. one even crossbow tied with brown twine as if something was inside waiting to spill. something more than blood and bone. most were madison avenue full dress, but some came only in simple mylar with simple binding, the surface of them far from revealing their rich and wonders water. they're fully made-up faces would alive later in the summer. we opened them and soon began finding them, all 208 of them, stacked by our beds, or in the front room where the reading light was much better, or there in the kitchen with the other food.
for poetry. if they cannot do what i want it to do, if it cannot restore those i've lost, then why bother with it at all? there's plenty that poetry cannot do, but the miracle, of course, is how much it can do. how much it does do. so often i think i know myself only to discover in a poem a difference and other myths that resonates where i find myself as well as stevens once put it, more truly and more strange. it is what some described as so making. i count myself among them. i think often of the words of paul connolly who said, i believe it is not arguing well, but speaking differently that changes the culture.
poetry is the place where speaking differently is the most prevalent. speaking differently is what i aspire to. and what i so adamantly admire in the poetry of adrian, frank, lucy. i am amazed to be in your company. thank you, alice, for publishing my first book. and for taking such exquisite care with it. i'm grateful to so many. but i want to especially thank gabriela rice who inspired so many of these poems. michele glaser and my brother are helping me through them. thank you to my husband, jerry, the hard to whom i speak for
everything. and final thanks to my family. my family. and especially to my mother, who made me. thank you. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ >> alt-a, to present the national book award for fiction is charles mcgrath. mcgrath is former editor of "the new york times" book review, and before that deputy editor of "the new yorker." please welcome charles mcgrath. [applause] ♪ ♪
>> standby, charles. i have the wrong card. [inaudible] that's seriously cruel to these fiction writers, i'm sorry. [laughter] the national book award for nonfiction -- are we good now? will be presented by eric sundquist, the author of to wake the nation, winner of the james russell prize from the modern language association for best book published during the year, the christian award from phi beta kappa for best book in the humanities, and the choice outstanding academic book award. these chair of the department of english and andrew w. mellon professor of humanities at johns
hopkins university, a great school. it gives me great pleasure to introduce eric sundquist. [applause] >> well, good evening. it's great pleasure to be here. on behalf of my fellow panelis panelists, let me thank the national book foundation for the privilege of justin this year's nomination in the category of nonfiction. perhaps i can speak for all of us in saying that in a lifetime of reading i have not had a more gratifying, surprising and educational experience. we had the pleasure of reviewing hundreds of books, 500 plus to be specific. across an exceptionally wide range of john is in topics.
and were encountering contemporary american writing at its very best -- genres. i'm sure all of us at one point or another look back within the two the 20 year period from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s when multiple awards recognizing as many as eight different categories of nonfiction were presented. for us, however, all those categories were crowded into one. and much as we would have loved to present many awards, we have first the narrow many superb works down to a long list of 10, and then down to these five finalists. "book of ages" by jill lepore, published by alfred a. knopf. [applause] "hitler's furies" by wendy
♪ ♪ >> this is an incredible honor. anyone who was at last nights reading knows that all of the nominees in this category did great work, and i feel very lucky to be given this award. thank you to my friend, john, alex, and the rest of farrar straus and giroux. you still do it the old-fashioned way which is still the best way.
[applause] thank you to sarah of the wylie agency for your crucial intelligence and enthusiasm. thank you to daniel and david, and others at "the new yorker," for giving me just the right balance of freedom and editorial brilliance. thank you to my friend, dexter, for being there from the start your my mother and sister, nancy and ann packer, writer's both, so they understand. my children, charlie and julia. i won't say he made it any easier if you did make it a lot more fun. to laura, my love, thank you for sharing my life and my work. i can't imagine either one without you. and, finally, i want to thank dean price, tammy thomas, jeff
coston, and other american who gave me a great gift of trusting me with their stories and allowing me into their lives so i could try to eliminate some of -- illuminate some of what's going on in america in the past generation and in their own lives, some of what's gone right. thank you very much. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> and now introduce a man who really needs no introduction, because i already introduced him. charles mcgrath. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> there were 407 nominees for
the national book award this year. that's up about 100 from 2012, which suggests that writing a fiction may actually be a growth industry in america. these books came from small publishers, from big publishers, from university publishers and self publishers. from old masters and some first timers. and they came in the mail in a variety of formats. in hardbacks, and paperbacks, in galleys, endless manuscripts and in loose leaf binders. one book, an epic novel of hawaii, came in a plastic case the coveted by what i think might have been a meta- fictional gesture, a packet of macadamia nuts. not all these books were good. [laughter] but many more than not perform that magical trick of prose, the
one that never gets tired no matter how many books we read. the trick they take you out of yourself and drops you down in another place, and another life. a great many of the books we read were not just good, but a very good. the national book awards this year for the first time is a very welcome thing of introducing a long list of 10 books. my fellow judges and i could easily double that. and the task of getting from 10 down to five down to one at times seemed arduous, unfair, and even cruel. a reminder that the whole business of giving literary the words -- awards, has the unfortunate effect of leaving out books that are almost equally deserving. eventually, my fellow judges and i got the one, and i think them
>> actually, i didn't prepare a speech because i really didn't think i was going to win today. but i would like to say i was reading today a note to myself about what happened in may 2004, on long island, when he gave the commencement speech and he spoke out against the war. the kids there, they booed him. and iron emir sang to myself, somebody really ought to say something. summer got to do something about this. think about this man at 72 years old, having the specter of his life having lived through, seen, lived through and witnessed at least to some degree the holocaust in the '50s and '60s and the body of work and
his desire to speak the truth and to serve as kind of the truth for us who are wordsmiths. and i really didn't do anything. and when i saw him speak tonight, i once again was reminded that we have a lot of work ahead of us. and i'm so proud to be part of a community that at least things like that. had rachel or thomas or george won tonight, i wouldn't have felt bad because they are fine writers. but it sure is nice to get it. [laughter] [applause] >> flip has been aged for nearly 30 years and for the first 15 you i didn't make her a penny and i'm so glad that -- we had a
bad judiciary because those of you know, our dear brother passed away and that was on the difficult thing for us who knew and loved them. i'm very thankful to jeff coston and to my daughter and my children. you know, when i wrote this book, my mother died in january of 2010. my niece died a couple weeks later. and then, and then my marriage fell apart. but it was always nice to have somebody who's world i could just fall into and follow him around. that was in "the good lord bird" talking about a great american. it's our responsibility to pave the way to further widen the trail that they have set for us.
and i'm proud to be as they say, a part of that number when the saints go marching in. thank you very much. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> thank you. this concludes the 64th annual national book awards. thank you all for coming. please join us for the after party which will be right upstairs. thanks. goodnight. ♪ ♪ ♪
>> you are watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs be weak gauge fishing live coverage of the u.s. senate to a weeknights watch key public policy events under the weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our website and you can join in the conversation on social media sites. the c-span bus which is parked on the mall is jeff chu is written this book called "does jesus really love me?: a gay christian's pilgrimage in search of god in america." if yo you would, start by givins a little bit of your upbringing and your religious history. >> guest: sure. i am the grandson of a baptist preacher. i'm the nephew of two other baptist ea