tv 2016 National Book Awards CSPAN November 26, 2016 11:00pm-12:50am EST
didn't know before that african-american in particular african-american parents carry around the fear of their children might be shot dead. that this is a -- victory if low income community that tile and again you hear them say really when i ask them do you think this can happen? then like samuel mom says i don't think it will be him but his brother. you know, their four, you know not doing job job as black friday in new york, right -- if you don't think your kid could be shot. every sedge black parent had factored that into their parenting. i didn't know that. i was a black parent. i'm a black parent buts i a black parent here, and then you think aye, i considered this, i have kind of, you know, so there was that, and in other words the second one was the degree to
which the gum debate not tusm these people they're not and doesn't engage them. it captures them, touches their lives that's who the consequences to but the debate doesn't engage them and what is this about? nobody mentions government. makes it not come up. and it seems to me like traffic. you know, like -- kid got run over. this is a terrible, terrible they think thatdz happened what are you going to do? the kind of helplessness about it, and final thing -- ...
i. >> the parents are not as different as the parents you know and the parents who love. these are for the most part very normal people who it serves some people in the interest of the gun conversation to apologize. but they are not that different. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was c-span was created as a public service as
america's cable television companies. it's it's brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> as we begin the national book awards, ladies and gentlemen please welcome to the stage, larry will more. ♪ ♪ >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. can everybody hear me okay? >> welcome to the 2016 national book awards. or as is going to be called next year, the trump national luxurious evening. bigley. man, what a a week how was your
week? this was very bizarre for me. wasn't tuesday night the most surreal night ever? i've been watching election since i was a kid, i have never experienced a night like. a friend of. a friend of mine actually said that was exciting was in it and i was like an exciting, i don't know if i would use the word exciting, it's exciting in the same way that an asteroid hurtling towards earth is exciting. it's spectacular, but i think were going to die. that's what it felt like, it's hard to explain the feelings. i voted for hillary, i'm a democrat. democrats were so happy at the beginning of the night, right, history was can be made, all of those kind of things, and by the end of the night it was like everybody's dog had died. is so horrible right, the only analogy that make sense to me, it felt as if we are all opening
a brand-new samsung lxe note seven. [laughter] i'm like man this is a nice phone can't wait to get it open. because when you plug in that new phone a surcharge in it, the only only thing on your mind is i wonder why time this time is going to be ready for me to use not, i wonder if i'm even going to have a phone and will my house be burned down to the ground. that's what it felt like at the end of that night. it was so bizarre. i think it is kind of unfair for people to say that hillary lost. well i think she's going to win the popular votes, or she is head. by a million and a half. man. it's also fair to say that trump one, i think trump had more passionate people for him especially in certain areas than hillary had for her. when you think about it, trump
had white people racing to the ballots like they were voting for the first white president. [laughter] come on let's go might be our only chance. i am a little worried i have to do it, i am a little concerned. is america is america ready for a white president? [laughter] i don't know once you go black, you know how it goes. [laughter] i don't know, i'm just putting it out there but it is interesting, even the upcoming trump presidency is even effect in the book world. bookstores are taking all copies of the constitution and moving them from the government section to the fiction section.
all copies of trump books are moving from the nonfiction section to the horse section, i think think that is appropriate. actually think that is appropriate. and now, here's the other thing, there are now taking classic books and i have to change the titles just make it coincide with what is going on in the country right now. this. this makes me sad. like the great gatsby is now going to be the terrific and i mean terrific gatsby. too many words right. little women will now be known as little women who will all be dating in ten years. like i said that right? [laughter] that's what he said. the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy is now the hitchhiker's guide to canada, oh, very nice. that is actually very helpful. pride and prejudice now is going to become pride and really -- prejudice. yes, i censored myself a little bit. a clockwork orange, now will
actually there is no change for a clockwork orange. , that is actually stay the same. [laughter] and finally, this is this one makes me sad, dr. seuss, the cat in the hat is now going to be called grab them by the pussy cat in the hat. i didn't say that, that is actually not a bad word though. should we get this evening started? yes, let's do it. [applause] actually, that was really a clean joke it just sounded like a dirty joke, joke, it really did. i wasn't going to do that joke but billy bush egg me on. this is going to be a fun night. i'm very excited to be here. i love books, love the fact that we celebrate books, i always thought books may be our only evidence of civilized society at some point. i'm starting to believe that could be true so thank everybody
who has written a book or as editor of a book. thank you very much. it means the world to me. in fact, just a real quick story, i sold books door-to-door one summer and i will tell you one summer a family cannot afford the books, there are poor immigrant family, at the and of the summer i left them there it's one of the things that changed my life. so thank you book people and now, we need books, but now please welcome to this stage the chairman of the national book foundation david steinberger. [applause]
>> it evening, on behalf of the national book foundation i would like to welcome you to the 67th national book awards. [applause] it is one of the things that makes the people special is having so many wonderful writers in the room. we have multiple winners of the national book award. we have winners of the pulitzer prize. we have winners of the newberry, the nebula, the penn faulkner, the edgar, the o henry, we have the writers have henry, we have writers have been nominated and finalists for every possible literary award. i want to recognize the writer in this room. if you are a writer we use the end up? it please stand right now, encourage your writers to stand. [applause] joined. [applause] join me in analogy men.
trust. thank you, all of you for your support. [applause] special thank you to apple and ibooks for hosting this year's after party. i have been told we are going to have a giant disco ball. is that right? it's coming. so it will be right here on the balcony behind me here, you are all invited to the after party. thank you to the after party committee, that is can, rachel, is can, rachel, jen, paul, and nicole. thank you. [applause] thank you to our dinner committee who made this evening possible. that that is indeed, lee, luke, debra, nicholas,
tracy, and shelley. thank you. [applause] i would like to thank the staff of the national book foundation that doesn't amazing job and especially our new executive director, lisa lucas. [applause] it is funny because everyone i ran into this evening in saint where did you find this person. she is unbelievable. we cannot get over her. i am just glad i'm talking before she is. people are not saying like who is this guy talking after lisa. we are thrilled with lisa's drive, enthusiasm, devotion and
commitment to the written word. she has made a difference and will make a great difference. thank difference. thank you to lisa and her team. [applause] i want to acknowledge our former executive director, howard. [applause] he is still working with us through a grant with the mellon foundation looking at translation. thank you. [applause] finally i want to thank my fellow board members who are so committed to the work of the foundation and i want to give special thanks to the members of the search committee who worked on this transition and who did such a great job. that's carolyn, calvin, i vice
chairman, thank you to the board. [applause] our mission, i was asked what was the mission of the national book foundation. our mission is to increase the impact of great books on the culture. that is pretty important. so i want to thank you for being here and being part of that important mission. and to all of our finalists for this year's national book award, congratulation on your wonderful achievement and good luck tonight. and now onto to the award ceremony. thank you. [applause] >> thank you david. now to
present the literary an award for outstanding service to the literary committee it is terrance. now terrance is the author and winner of the 2010 national book award and finalists of the national book critics circle award. his honors include a writers award, national a for the arts fellowship, united states artists fellowship, a guggenheim guggenheim fellowship and a macarthur fellowship. his most recent collection of poems was a finalist for the national book award. and received the 2016 naacp image award for poetry. he gives me great pleasure to welcome terrance hayes. [applause]
>> often, over the years i have have been asked why a group of black poets would call itself -- it's latin. because blackness, like poetry means different things i like to say. for example, once upon a time to black poets of visiting the lost city of pompeii enters the house of the tragic poet and saw upon entering a sign reading, they -- on the gate. later when they had a retreat that's what they call the, latin for beware of the dog. what does it mean to be the dog guarding the house a poetry?
maybe they never pause to ask such a question or 20 years later they are still asking the question. because blackness, like poetry means many things, they welcome a black poets black poets of every shade and age from every where in the middle of nowhere, spoken word verse, academics, experimentalists, formalists, students and formalists, students and professors, ex-cons, exiles, weirdos, librarians, atheists, priests and priestesses. the initial gathering of 26 poets included the 82-year-old granddaughter of a confederate general as well as a formal disc jockey who decided to live in homeless shelters so he would have time studying to become a poets. now, with well over 300 fellows this is one of the most diverse
poetry organizations in the country. in 1968, when a right placement erroneously shot 33-year-old black poet, henry dumas and the subway station in harlem, no one imagined a nation of black poets could exist. it is such a futuristic idea. a world in which the descendents of slaves become poets. elizabeth bishop said poetry is a way of thinking with one's feelings and lucille clifton, one of the first teachers, one of the first poets to see the value of such a place famously wrote, come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and has failed. [applause]
imagine 20 years of thinking with one's feelings while something is trying to kill you. all kinds of magical things open up in such a place it happened during's the fellas reading sometimes, for fellows readings, poets age 18 to 88 all styles and dispositions get up to the open mic to read a poem. it's amazing. this summer i taught there there was a brother from chicago, avery, strange, brilliant brother tuned it to some supernatural frequency. across between sun, rock, and danny hathaway. so in avery's time to recite a poem came he started singing, where were you when they go that boy, where were where were you when they kill that boy? i thought he was just going to sing a little bit before the poem. but he went on like that.
singing the blues and the gospel for like five or six minutes walking around the room like he was possessed. would you kill the men who killed that boy he would sing. would you kill for that boy? would you kill for that boy? would you live for that boy? would you live for that boy? church. he was sweating and panting when he was done. so i tried to breathe and i cannot breathe. i started heading for the door and i left the room. i found myself kneeling, i don't how long. i would was alone in the darkness outside and i cost. when i was done i straighten my face and i was about to head
back inside to the reading when i was right by crowd of people who were weeping and hyperventilating. i thought i was the only one. he cleared the room. so maybe half an hour later the reading continued, no one can say what had happened exactly, and even this year is about 5% of what happened. what would happen if you brought a bunch of black poets together in a safe place? if you became the black and faithful dog guarding that place? what happened? we know the poets affiliated with such a place would flourish because they have. but we also note many more brilliant, unaffiliated black poets remain imperiled or overlooked, or just willfully writing alone. writing is lonely, all of the time. no organization can change that. but the group is kind of a fortification, even if if you are not a poet or black it is a fortification of your language, your history, your future, we
have seen a black president and we are seeing what kind of president comes after a black president. we have seen and we still are seeing black men and women killed by people sworn to protect them. our legs remain in danger. which is to say your lives remain in danger. we need arts organizations, organizations that put writers in schools, homeless shelters, prisons and underserved communities. sometimes your living room is an underserved community. nonprofit arts organizations need your support, lloyd's loyalty, your bar, and your bite. we must. we must be the dogs regarding the house. we are here tonight to say thank you for your work.
[inaudible] >> wow. i am most grateful to the national book foundation for this validation. i accept this award and the names of our 440 fellows all over the country. our visionary executive directors. the income innkeeper for the birth of the group, our first retreat staff, our first faculty, elizabeth alexander,
are productive and hard-working board member during the past 20 years, our current board president, jaclyn jones, our office and retreat staff, and all of those who have given their knowledge, skills, money, and love. foremost, i want to to thank my beloved friend, sarah and cornelius, my partners in crime. for this shared passion that we have been so privileged to enjoy. each year in the opening circle on the first night more than 50 african-american poets look across the room, some of whom have never worked with another african-american poet and see themselves reflected back. their beauty and power. there is an outpouring of tears, gratitude, and joy.
all over the country there are fellas writing poems and building communities who have gone through this transformation. in 2015, three poets one top literary awards. robin won the national book award for voyage of the sable venus. [applause] greg a pulitzer prize for digest. [applause] and ross, the new york book critics circle award for catalog of unabashed gratitude. [applause] i believe the poets will be the flesh and blood of the work that her country needs so urgently to do, especially now. this energy does not belong to us, it was passed down through the creative genius of our ancestors which was their response to slavery and
oppression. we do them honor by passing it on, joy is an act of resistance. [applause] thank you. >> one of the great things is the ability to see one another in the room. i have that feeling right now. we are all seen each other. thank you, national book foundation for seeing what we have done. thank you. [applause]
[inaudible] [inaudible] >> one more hand everybody. [applause] very powerful. that is what i call controlling the narrative. whenever people get to control the narrative we get to hear amazing stories and it makes us all better. now to present the medal for distinguished contribution to letters is doctor william kelly. doctor william p kelly is the andrew w mellon director of the research library responsible for the libraries for research centers and therefore hundred 60 staff members. his responsibility does include collection strategy, acquisition and accessibility, research, engagement, preservation, and taking a lead role such as the
reservation -- he began his tenure in january 2016. previously he was of in terms chancellor of the city of the university of new york. and spent eight successful years as president of the cuny graduate center. he's the current chairman of the johnston guggenheim foundation. please welcome doctor william p kelly. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> thank you larry. it is the privilege to present the national book foundation's lifetime achievement medal for distinguished contribution to
letters to robert a carol. i much deserved onerous dennis sigler lee declared one. his career has been crowned with laurel. he has been widely recognized as the greatest biographer of our times. one might all argue of all time. he's been celebrate as as most consequential interpreter of the american 20th century. his magisterial accounts of robert moses and lyndon johnson have fundamentally altered our understanding of the acquisition and the deployment of power. his stature in the first rank of american journalist is beyond dispute. his passion for getting the story right and his commitment and that of his a great partner to pursue every lead, every source, every archival trace is
the stuff of legends. his many honors and awards include two pulitzers, two national book credit circle awards, the gold medal for the academy, the national humanities model, bear witness to that pursuit, so to his impact on a generation of generation of journalists who have profited from his example. the meadow we present tonight acknowledges bob's accomplishments as biographer, historian, and journalist, but it celebrate something larger, it honors his contribution to american letters, as such it recognizes in this company of writers the power of the word and of bob's genius for wielding that authority and our common
interests. at the the heart of bob's achievement is language itself. its capacity to make us present, to peel, to engage with actors across time and space and to change the way we see and inform the way we live. that power resides in words, and sentences in the alignment of paragraphs and the arrangement of pages. of bob's accuracy is a function of his attention to detail, his narrative powers derived from getting the language right every clause, every preposition, bob's work has been described as shakespearean most often in reference to the history place and yes, his mastery of character and of narrative design, his rendering and ambition and its discontent call to mind richard and henry for and five.
it is on the level of language that his affinities are most apparent. rhythm, rhythm, balance, the place of sentences, undergird and drive the stories he tells. that is the source of their power, the propulsion propulsion that drives his chapters in books forward, the pulse that keeps us turning pages through the night. the sentences in the books he constitute made us conscious of the ambiguity of power in the presence of it in the most intimate aspects of our lives. the capacity of great good and even greater evil. the need to recognize is often invisible exercise and the imperative to resist its abuse. that is the gift of a rare order, never more critical than in these days. please join me in saluting the master of american letters, robert to a carol.
[applause] [applause] >> well that was such a wonderful introduction that i'm reminded of what lyndon johnson used to say when he got an especially wonderful introduction. he would say that he wished his parents were alive to hear it. [applause] his father would have loved it and is mother would've believed it. i've discovered in the last couple of weeks since i was told i had gotten this lifetime award
that there is one particularly nice aspect of getting a lifetime award, and makes you think back over your lifetime. doing that has made me remember some wonderful things that i have forgotten for a long time. of course when he start remembering me remember some tough times too. i remember robert robert moses who was at the height of his power say, i will never talk to, my family will never talk to, my friends will never talk to, and then he had another sentence i can't remember the exact words. but there was nobody who is a contract with the city or state will talk to. i remember thinking, what i do now? i remember running out of money, my contract with the
powerbroker was 5000 dollars, i wish i, i wish i had gotten 2500 in advance. we used to joke that we're doing the book for the world's smallest advance. but for those of you who are writers here that stop him funny very quickly. laughmac quickly. [laughter] i remember seven years of listening to people say, no one will ever read a book about robert moses. but looking back on it, if you say that life is in a way a journey, it has been a great journey. i have always loved finding things out and trying to explain. that is what happens with these books. with robert moses i had been a young journalists who got interested in political power. i had once a minor journalistic awards, really minor but when you are young and when any award you think you know everything. when robert moses after seven years agreed to talk to me and he started talking, i realized
in the first moments that he was talking that i knew nothing about political power. that this man was operating in thinking on the level far beyond anything i had ever thought. i had to try to understand it. time and again as he would say something i remember thinking wow, i never thought about that. it was great for me, getting those lessons into a political power. not the kind we learn about in textbooks, but real political power, the the raw, naked essence of power really consists of. then there is learning the texas hill country, that remote and impoverished isolated area were lyndon johnson grew up. i was interviewing people who grew up with johnson there and i realized i wasn't really understanding them. therefore i was not understanding lyndon johnson. so i moved there for the better part of three years to learn
this new world. it was so different from the world in new york which i grow. is about 39 when i started. let me tell you that living in and learning, having to learn a new world when you are that age, that was a great gift to me. but of course if life is in a way a journey, the most important thing about a journey as your companions. getting this award made me think of the people who have been my companions and that has been the most wonderful thing of all. in 1972 in my 50 year after starting the powerbroker i finally got an agent, linda spit and i got a new editor. [applause] bob, at alford -- they also got another editor, kathy.
[applause] who has worked with bob on all my books. bob has been my editor, lynn has been my agent and cap he has worked to my books ever since 1972. to save you the trouble of calculating, that is 44 years. so years. so for all of that time, 44 years, i have had the same editors and same agents. together we have worked on five books. whatever lifetime achievement i have, bob, when, in lynn, and cap your part of it. those three people were with me 44 years ago and there with me today. that fact alone makes looking back on my life terrific. another person has been a big part of my life, sonny. he came. [applause] he came in 1987.
he is a relative newcomer in my life. 29 years is barely more than a quarter a quarter of century, hardly worth mentioning. [laughter] it has meant a lot to me to have sonny with me. whenever i have a manuscript i go in to see him. in complementing the manuscript he always says, picks out the very thing that i most wanted readers to get out of the book. he has a gift and it is quite a rare gift of my experience for seeing the grass and being able to explain the very heart of a book. another thing about sonny, not once in 29 years has he asked me or has anyone else asked me when i my going to be finished with my book. [laughter] have literally, never once and 44 years heard that question.
never once a desire propose for the number of volumes in years to three, to four, not to five has he had any words to me except words of encouragement. thanks sonny. there is another person whom i especially want to thank, andy. [applause] and is the person most responsible for the fact that my books, long though they are, are are always beautiful books. in addition, myron's insistence on rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting with my books and galleys in the evening page proofs, rewriting in the very last stage of page proofs, causes a lot of problems.
somehow he always solves them. thanks for that andy. since i have been at the same publishing house for 44 years i have other people to thank. tony who support of the johnson project has been on -- paul who in moments of crisis and we have had a lot of moments of crisis has always been there for me. and, nick, russell, as i walk walk around the halls of my publishing house they seem to me to be filled not only with friends, but with the friends of decades. and of course there is the companion of my whole life, the most important companion and everything, when i learned that i was getting was getting this award and started thinking back over my life, naturally the first person i thought of was --
i remembered her selling the house, i didn't really care much about the house but i not love the house. we really had no place else to turn for money and i came home one day and she came up to me and before i got out of the car she said, we sold the house today. i remember how she never let me know all the indignities of being broke. it was only after the new yorker brought the powerbroker that she said, now now i can walk past the butchers again. i had never even know that we are unable to pay bills there so that she had had to choose a different shopping area. i remember when i told told her wasn't understanding the hill country and we would have to move there, baby for two or three years. she said, why can't you write a biography of napoleon. [laughter] but of course then she said what
she always says, sure. and of course i never has been much more than that. i read sometimes about historians who have dreams of three or four researchers. i have a team of researchers too. and it sign up. she is the whole team. the only person i have ever trusted to do research on my books. she has the course written to wonderful books of her own, but somehow, despite that she has always found time for my. thank you anna. [applause]
when i was told a few weeks ago i would be getting this award i started remembering all of this. so it is worth a very full heart that i think the national book foundation, its director linda lucas who wrote me the wonderful letter who told me i had one and all the other people at the foundation. this award has made me remember a life and that has been a great gift to me. thank you all. [applause] >> now that is how you do an acceptance speech. i would love to see that on the oscars. psych no i am not finished.
that was so great, i'm so inspired. i want to go out and read all of these books. that sounds fascinating. i want to read everything you talked about you have a short dinner break and then will come back after the dinner break and continue the awards, here they are yours serving delicious steak so enjoy that. a word of caution, if something happens and you don't feel good and everything you say starts not making sense, nobody can understand you, you probably got a trump steak so be very careful. i had to stick another one in there. enjoy your dinner. we'll see you after. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪
♪ ♪ ♪ >> hello everyone. welcome welcome back. i hope dinner was lovely. and now for the good part. you get to find out what you have been wondering who is going to win the national book award for 2016. our fabulous host larry earlier said that it's a tough time and we have all been dealing with the political situation in the country but then troy also said that joy is an active resistance. [applause] and so i say that putting on our dresses and tuxedos being together and celebrating literature is in fact an active resistance. [applause] a reminder that we can repair our country and our world and we
can be together and still feel joy and happiness. so, i am brand-new. this is my first year as executive director of the national book foundation. [applause] i am super nervous. this is my first time on the stage, i am unlikely to write a novel or a biography and so it might not be ever for any other reason other than to welcome you here. looking at all of you bright lights in this room reminds me this role is a profound honor, a tremendous responsibility, truly a dream come true. it is my dream job. i am a reader, the capital are reader and the practice of
reading books, talking about books, learning from them, loving them has brought more joy and empathy joy in empathy and more magic into my life than i can ever really truly express. i believe deeply, really, truly deeply that this work matters. i'm a black woman, obviously. but i am the first woman in the first person of color to serve in this role. [applause] and that is the source of pride for me. it's also a source of inspiration. i am reminded every day that as a black woman it is my job to keep making sure there are more seats at an ever expanding table. one that includes anyone with a capacity for wonder with curiosity and with passion which
is to say, everyone, no matter what they look like or where they come from or who they love. [applause] being a. in general is an emotional moment for me especially at this time when many of us in this rumination find ourselves disoriented, disconnected, and unclear about what is to come. tonight, at the 67th national book awards let us remember that books give us hope, they give us comfort, they light our way, they, they light our way, they instruct us and they bring us together. the simple act of reading creates community where each and every one of us will always be welcome. together we can make that community of readers bigger and stronger, and more powerful. my deepest hope is that every
person in this room will join the foundation in making a commitment to doing so tonight. before i continue to go on and go way past my time limits which i have so gently told people not to. i have a lot of thanks to give. thank you so much to our wonderful host, larry wilmore. it is a pleasure and privilege to have you here. [applause] you are super funny. i think as david said earlier to our generous sponsors, without you we would not be here. thank you to apple and to ibook for hosting tonight's party. stick around, there's going to be really big disco ball which looks like my dress. and we are grateful for each of our partners to help us run our
program because we are more than just an award. we work year-round to bring readers into the fold them are grateful to everybody who helps us do that. to our book a program, through our program it, drink, and, be literate, through our nbn campus program which brings finalists and winners think campuses around the country to 535, some of the authors are here. i'd also like to thank for suffer my job, but in general for being incredible, the national book foundation's board of directors. [applause] the board of directors of the national book foundation terrified me when i first met them all. i did not think i would make it through my first meeting. despite how intimidating they might seem a paper, in real real life they are warm, loving,
passionate, and smart and they care so much about this work. it is an absolute joy to have such backing and to have so much warmth and care dumped into this organization that we work to keep alive every day. in particular i would like to call david steinberger. [applause] who has been a mentor, was tolerated my phone calls every tuesday morning for the past nine months. care so much, but not only cares but believes we can do more, be more, and grow to be an organization that has a profound impact on the way we read in america. i also want to thank my predecessor heralds. [applause] promised him i would embarrass and him for with my love from
the stage. baton has never been passed so warmly. he is taken every phone call, every panic attack, he has built this organization and made this work possible. most of the things are seen tonight are things harold thought of. they are to do list and he is an amazing man. his working at the foundation with the mellon foundation and i will never forget him so long as he lives on this earth. he's given me a beautiful transition into an organization that has the opportunity to flourish has been tremendous. thank you so much for everything you have done. next up is the staff at the national book foundation. they are our everything. shut out to courtney, ben,
laura, mary us, sherry, jordan, jonathan, we are small but mighty. i am proud of you all. and now for our judges who are at entrance read a combined total of 4464 books to identify the 20 finalists titles in the 22 finalists that you'll see tonight, thank you for enduring and building strong relationships with your ups person. where would we be tonight without all of the remarkable and talented writers in this room? or finalists, thank you for your work, your spirit, your vision,
it helps us better understand who we are, where we come from, nor we might hope to go. you help us to dream and understand. used a quote when i interviewed for this job and it feels really relevant and inspiring now to me in this moment. ralph ellison, 1953 national 53 national book award winner once said, literatures integrated and i'm not just talking about color or race, i'm talking about the power of literature to make us recognize and again and again the wholeness of the human experience. so why are we here tonight? why do we bother when this world is such a disaster to get dressed up in our gowns and tuxedos and i see you if you didn't wear one. what are we to do? aren't there more important matters to attend to, but no.
it's about trying to seek out what the wholeness of the human experiences. or mission is to celebrate the best of american literature into expand the audience and enhance the cultural value of great writing in america. we need books right now more than we ever have. we need our writers more than we ever have. we need thoughtful critique, we need stories and poems and novels and graphic memoir's, essays and pros and we need them to inspire us and recognize and affirm our place in the world. we need literary activists of all kinds were going to help every kind of reader find and share in the beauty and power books. more than anything we need to reach readers. new readers and young, adult,
immigrants, and immigrant, and citizen of every religion, race, politics. i believe now for than ever we need to come together and understand who we can be, much there is to achieve and how far we can go. there's no better way to start the conversations them by reading and connecting through the books that we are celebrating tonight, the 2020 books we are celebrating here tonight. i hope you'll join me not just tonight but throughout the year in this mission to change the world. one book at a time. i ask you to believe in assembly been the foundation and believe in the books and support us. help us turn that belief into action. may the bright spirit of tonight celebration shine to the days in the weeks, the years to come. may this literature last forever. with so much to celebrate and so much to read, let's take comfort
tonight and each other and then let's get this party started. tomorrow let's get to work. [applause] [applause] . . >> one more time for lisa lucas. i don't know about you guys but i have to acknowledge you she has thanked me three or four times for this. i thank you for doing this and inviting me to be here. i always joke about i also act and write and produce and do a lot of different things, but i
put things in categories like actors are the babies and i always say the writers are the smartest people in the room. [laughter] even if it doesn't seem like it on screen, trust me. but i also believe that great writing doesn't just require smart or intelligence, it requires you to be an athlete of the heart. we need our athletes more than ever and we need to raise the game now more than ever and i want to thank you. of course all of this starts with getting young people involved in reading and to present the national book award is katherine paterson. [applause]
kathryn is the author of more than 30 books including 16 novels and she has won the newberry medal in 1978, and jacob have i loved in 1991. the national book award in 1997 and the great hopkins won the national book award in 1979. she received the hans christian andersen award and was named a living legend by the library of congress and it gives me great pleasure to introduce katherine paterson. ♪
one feels like one should say larry. thank you and your wonderful staff for this celebration. it is my privilege to present -- that's at my height right now. [laughter] it is my privilege to present a panel of judges for young people's literature, lou alexander, valerie lewis and laura. no chair could have asked for a more hard working and congenial crew and i than i think you tham the bottom of my heart. the good news is that this was a great year for young people's
books but the bad news is this was is a great year for young people's books. our choices were painful. far too many truly deserving books had to be left behind as we came together for a long list and then to the final list that we are honoring tonight. our deliberations considered for distinct categories of excellence. how does the book appeal to the head and intelligence and craft of its construction? how does appeal to the richness and the honesty of its emotional vacation. code avocation and how does it appear to the quality of its voice, and then finally how does it contribute to the vast conversation that is written for
children and young adults. in other words is this a book not only to our time but a book that will stand the test of the year? we believe that we have chosen those books. now it is with admiration for the strength, the beauty, and the timely and timeless truth of their accomplishments that we applaud their creators. [applause] john lewis, nate powell for books number three. [applause]
grace limit for when the sea turned to silver. little brown books for young readers. jason reynolds for ghost. [applause] [cheering] books fo for youngyoung readers. the sun is also a star, eloquent press, angle random house. and the 2016 national book award for young people's literature goes to john lewis. [applause]
[cheering] thank you. this is unreal. this is unbelievable. i grew up in rural alabama, very, very poor. i remember in 1956 when i was 16-years-old with some of my brothers and sisters and cousins going to the library trying to get library cards and were told that the libraries were whites only. and to come here and receive
this award is too much. [cheering] thank you. [applause] but i had a wonderful teacher in elementary school who told me read, my child, agreed. and i tried to read everything. i loved books. thank you, andrew, nate, each and every one of you and the judges. thank you national book foundation. thank you so much. [cheering] this was an incredibly intense group effort. we couldn't have done this
alone. thank you, friends, collaborators, lee walton, the engine that drove. thank you, chris, happy birthday. thank you everybody, my amazing wife whose sacrifices made my end of the deal attainable, my children and their generation will inherit. and a message to a challenge to our incoming president. i challenge you to take this trilogy into your tiny hands and allow your tiny heart to be transformed by it. [laughter] none of us are alone in this, not even you. [cheering]
i pitched this idea to the congressman when i was 24-years-old. i didn't know any better. [laughter] when i was a kid, we didn't have money for books, so we would go to the library. it happened to be the only place that had air conditioning that we could use in georgia. i was raised by a single mom and she couldn't be here tonight, but she made me promise i would watch this with her at christmas, so merry christmas, mom. [laughter] we did it. [cheering] i want to thank chris for saying yes when i pitched this over the table at a comic book conventi convention. i want to thank all the publishers who said no. [laughter] i want to thank john lewis for
saying yes. [applause] there are two important lessons from this. one is that the story of the movement must be told to every child young and old. we all must know it if we are to understand the politics of today. and number two, but the prejudice against comic books be buried once and for all. [laughter] ' thank you to everyone, lee walton. let me just say to his wife, you can have him back now. [laughter] and let me thank one more time, my mom. because there was no one that would say i should be here or i
should have this award, but says i should work with john lewis and be able to serve in congress, that you could grow up to be the son in muslim immigrant who do not know whose name you. despite a. you persevered. you got me through it. by god, we made the best of it. thank you. [applause] [cheering] [applause] wow, john lewis, everybody.
to me it makes sense he's an comic bookincomic books becausea real superhero. and little did his arch enemies know that racism just made him stronger. [laughter] only made him stronger. that is a national hero. now to present the book award for poetry is joy, and acclaimed writer and her memoir one the literary award for creative nonfiction. she's the recipient of the award from the academy's of american poets, and she's done work in an album of music and second memoir, that's amazing.
she held the chair of excellence in creative writing at the university of tennessee knoxville. it gives me great pleasure to introduce joy. [applause] ♪ was a celebration. first i wish for this year's national book award and the poetry a and incredible group of judges that include mark, jericho brown, katie ford and terry swenson. [applause]
we, makers of stories, poems and readers of literature all need each other as we navigate a broken heart of this country. poetry is truth telling than the concise art of conscience come into the word magic of history and prophecy. we absolutely need poetry as we move forward from last tuesday. poetry carries the spirit of the people and is necessary in the doorways of transition and transformation. this award acknowledges the accomplishments of american poets who see us through to the other side. for six months, we have read, reread, discussed books, poems, word, what matters and what continues to matter in the making of poetry. we have read nearly 300 books of poetry together. we have found incredible poetry
impractical and impoverished as it might end up being. i want as well my 9-year-old at home watching i think he was more nervous than i was, so i love you and i wouldn't have made this book without you. when i walked in this evening, a nice person that greeted me at the door i introduced myself and they said yours is the book that was published in an apartment and this was said with great enthusiasm that apartment belonged to joe and wendy of brooklyn arts press. [applause] [cheering] who have been the most incredible publishers joe has done so much for this book and once he found out it was nominated for the book award has been so incredibly supportive. i need to think the brooklyn
arts press who edited the book and the host that worked on the design as well as sam hall and all of the team a and the press that i'm missing. my formation as a writer has been among the people that make books in their apartment many of whom have been publishing me for years, and it's been one gift tt after another so i want to acknowledge those people who labor in the small press world which is where i very much have come from so others have published my work, i want to acknowledge and thank you. my friends in chicago and from the green lantern press and many
others i'm not going to mention that have made of the literary world is so much better. finally, the performance of being human comes out of the idea that literature and poetry in particular can serve as a means of producing social and historical memory and at this moment as many people in the room are very concerned about what the future is going to bring, i too mac and incredibly concerned about that. that comes out of the experience of thinking about many types of abuse, both state violence, economic exploitation, the experience of migrants and exiles and immigrants and i am particularly concerned about the fate of undocumented people in this country, so i want to ask -- [applause]
so i would simply conclude by asking that we all do our part to make sure the country remains safe and welcoming to undocumented people, immigrants and speakers of many languages. thank you. [applause] [cheering] we are about halfway through the night. just a little joke. you're like what. [laughter] the award will be presented by masha, the russian american journalist and author of nine books of nonfiction including the brothers called the road to american tragedy, and the national bestseller the man without a face of the rise of vladimir putin.
she's a contributing opinion writer to "new york times" a frequent contributor to the new york review of books and the new yorker. she is a carnegie mellon melanie also welcome is the millennial plaques or just a carnegie mellon fellow? that would be weird if millennial -- [laughter] she's actually only 9-years-old. [laughter] she's done a lot. [laughter] a longtime resident of moscow maybe that's just how they do it in russia, that's how good the vodka is. a longtime resident of moscow, she now lives in new york and he gives me great pleasure to introduce masha. [applause] ♪ yes, and the vodka was very helpful in making those decisions. [laughter] you already know that it was a love of books and that the
choice was excruciatingly hard. such a lot of books but also such a lot of great and important books. i was very impressed with how many books on history we had to read this year, how many striking memoirs were red. and i realized at one point i was thinking if my 15-year-old daughter, who is actually here today because she had the job of alphabetizing the books and sorting them and resorting them, if she had read nothing but the books that were nominated by publishers for the nonfiction award this year, she would be a really well-educated person. i want to thank the judges whom i will miss greatly from our conversations and company. the judges were cynthia barnett, greg and ronald ross bottom. [applause]
we produced our long list and shortlist and it seemed to us it was a very heavy lift. it was physically very heavy. [laughter] if you solve the stacks of the different nominations, ours was definitely the highest. it was a very heavy lift. and it's a great list and somehow over the last week it's begun to appeal ever more timely and ever more urgent. urgency is one of the criteria that emerged in our conversation, not just urgency in the subject matter but with which we want to ask people to read these books because they will change or affect the way you see the country and that you
think about some of the most important issues today. so the finalists are strangers in their own land. [applause] stabbed from the beginning -- stamped from the beginning, nothing ever dies from harvard university press. [applause] "the other slavery." and heather thompson for blood in the water. [applause]
[cheering] i have some prepared remarks but i don't know how i'm going to open these up. give me a second. of course i would like to thank the judges and the national book foundation. i would like to thank all of the co- finalists and my family who is here. my mother and my father who from the moment i could see were reading books. i would like to thank my brother who for me represents the beauty
of humanity and also my father-in-law. this book actually came out of a conversation that we had. i of course would like to thank my wife who spent many days listening to the early drafts and what always encouraged me and has always encouraged me to be my biggest advocate. i am truly thankful to be her partner in life. [applause] i of course would like to thank nation books. [applause] of course with challenging power, one book at a time.
i would like to thank my editor who of course we've spent many hours talking and she o of coure be peeved in my work and i would like to thank clive of course far from the beginning believing in me that i could produce this history of racist ideas. i would like to thank my agent who -- [applause] i think when we first met i was 29, 30-years-old and she believed that i could produce this. i of course would like to thank the newest addition to my family. some of you have seen her tonight.
my six -month-old daughter. [applause] and she truly is the best award i've received all year, no offense to the national book fair. [applause] her name in swahili means faith. her name of course has a new meaning for us as the first black president is set to leave the white house and as a man that was endorsed by the ku klux klan is about to enter. faith. i just want to let everyone know that i spent years looking at the absolute worst of america,
it's for a -- at indiana i never lost faith. the terror of racism, i never lost faith that the terror of racism on one day and. i never lost faith because for every racist idea, there was an antiracist idea. for every color of the mind can every care killer of the mind there was a lifesaver of the mind. will i. >> there is human beauty and the resistance of racism. that is why i have faith. i will never lose my faith that you and i can create an antiracist america where racial disparity are nonexistent. where americans are no longer
manipulated by racist ideas. wear black lives matter. [applause] so i want to thank -- for that. i want to thank all of those in history, all of those people across the nation who are learning to be antiracist, who have dedicated their lives to inside racist work. work. you are my rock of faith. you aren't the nations rock of faith, of faith, and i dedicate my award to all of you. thank you. [applause]
[inaudible] [inaudible] >> let me say something. national book foundation is woke. [laughter] man. it is woke. there was very nice shout out to the baby and the wife. black wives the matter you guys. you get a do that. you can find out the hard way, or the easy way. two. sent the national national book award for fiction is james english. john walsh is the at the university of pennsylvania where
he directs the penn humanities for the price for digital humanities. his books include prizes a word the circulation of cultural values. selected as the best academic book of 2005 by new york magazine. please welcome james english. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> what a celebration. what what a celebration of the written word. i'm starting to feel good for the first time in eight days. club my thanks to lisa and to harold and the national foundation for giving me the opportunity to work with a group
of very distinguished writers who are strong and thoughtful readers of fiction. my fellow judges and geronimo johnson are back there in table 60. [applause] to other judges cannot be with us, juliet threw her back out this morning and justman ward is home with a really new baby, just a couple of weeks old. it is a real honor to work with these great writers and fun, too. judging the national book award requires commitment of hundreds of hours. as an educator i have a day job so i did what my students called double counting. arranging things things so that the work that demanded in one domain fulfilled something required in another. teaching a course, it is called novel of the year.
[laughter] focus rather nearly on the 2016 book award for fiction. the students in this class road all read all the short list of books, they studied their authors, their agents, their editors, editors, the publishing houses, all of you. they are really learning about the ways in which you work to support literary fiction in difficult times. it has been a fun class. students have formed juries, decided their own winners. they attempted to predict the outcome here tonight. they have even applied a computer program, a model to try to predict the winner algorithmically. it was developed in canada, it apparently it apparently works for canadian prizes, here, not so much.
there has on the whole the more strenuous disagreement in the classroom than among the official judges. karen geronimo, julie, justman and i have found ourselves in close accord throughout the process. we. we gradually whittled down the 400 books to arrive at a place of no compromise where everyone of the five judges love every one of the five finalists. they are chris bachelder's, "the throwback special", it ww norton and company. paula giles, "news of the role close" karen mahajan, "the association of small bombs" colton whitehead, "the underground railroad", and
jacqueline woodson, "another brooklyn". they're different from one another and genre, matter and effect. each of these is a great read and a work of narrative art. taken together, they attest to both the range and vitality of contemporary american fiction. the other judges and i remained in accord even when, earlier today using skype, we made the difficult selection for these five extraordinary books. a work that impressed us with the complex and embracing epics, it's formal inventiveness, its use of fiction to eliminate the nation's troubled history's troubled history for the sake of its troubled present.
so i guess the last four months since the book came out have been so incredible, today was like is this like the make-a-wish foundation, am i dying diner something, everybody's been nice to me. it is also confusing, i guess my model for acceptance speeches is the oscars, the first one i saw was like 77 where star wars was put against annie hall. when and a hard one i was really crushed. i never thought that i would become a writer and be at one of these things.
i've been with doubleday for 18 years. i was going to say that who gets to stay at the same publishing house for 18 years and then robert carol is like pulls this whole thing, well done sir. [laughter] but my first book was intuition us. [applause] it was like the weird job of translating translated my prince ability to readers and booksellers and critics so i want to thank allison rich. [applause] michael goldsmith, the mayors, lauren for translating my weirdness for the larger world, i wrote a book 20 years ago and everybody hated it. i have an agent and she dumped me. then i talked with gina who is
an editor who ended up finding tuition extension she said you should talk to nicole. [applause] that a young agent and a book last year you may have heard of it so even though -- assented to her and she pick me up out of the garbage and maybe human, halfway, thank you nicole. [applause] gina pullman was john henry day and then i started working with bill thomas. [applause] and over the years i have these ideas for books and those like i'm not sure it's like a zombie book, sort of black hawk down
meets -- and his like just write it and will do it and that has always been the case. no matter what idea would come up with he's always going to get it out there and publish it incredibly no matter what it is. i just remember handing a book to him hundred pages last summer and he was like, very excited and i don't want to mess up the next hundred pages, don't mess it up. i. i don't want to let bill down. so thank you for all of your faith over the years, it has meant a lot. to write stuff out there and have someone in your corner like bill is a rare thing. thank you sir. [applause] my daughter maddie has been home watching on the screen screen, maddie, you're 12 years 12 years
old, i really started living the day you are born, thank thank you for your ongoing gift to my life. [applause] beckett's three, i don't know who you are yet, i'm excited to find out. [applause] but it is so much fun watching shows with you and you have all these ideas about things. i'm excited excited to see how they develop. in my book is dedicated to my wife. [applause] it is okay writing good books when you're unhappy, it's a rut better writing better books when you're happy. so thank you both. [applause] [inaudible]
we get the word out and people read my copy and i'm like i don't know. and then oprah is like read it and people do and it's all crazy. so this time last year is finishing the book and i had like 19 pages to go and i didn't want to mess it up. you never know what is going to happen in a year and now the book is out and i never thought i would be standing here. and who knows where we will be a year from now. we're so happy to be here. outside is the blasted hellhole wasteland of trump land which we're going to inhabit, but who knows what will happen a year from now. because i am promoting the book people are wondering about the
election and i'm like that really i'm stunned. and then i hit on something that was making me feel better and then i guess it was i think hopefully it affected other folks, be kind to everybody, make hearts and fight the power. that that seemed like a good formula for me anyway. [applause] so bmf and if you have trouble remembering that a good thing to tell yourself is they can't break me because i am a bad . thank you. [applause]
[applause] [inaudible] inc. you. this concludes the presents the national book award, with special guests robert carol, i just want to say. [laughter] how much i enjoyed him. he was fantastic. thank you so much for coming, special thanks to lisa lucas and the foundation. all of the work you're doing. keep reading, keep writing, and we are going to be all right. [applause] [inaudible] ♪