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New York loves the National Book Awards

Lit-lovers gather in New York next week as the city celebrates National Book Award Week with a series of events leading up to the National Book Foundation’s 57th National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner. Under 35 and a budding novelist? You might enjoy the Under 35 event where the 2006 NBA finalists and winners attend celebrate the National Book Awards with the next generation of fiction writers. The following day young adult novel writers will gravitate to the National Book Awards Teen Press Conference and the NBA finalists will be at the New School for a Finalist Reading. The top-off to the week’s activities happens Wednesday night with the National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner.

Won’t be in New York next week? Don’t worry. CSPAN will once again be there recording the event for posterity. You–and I–can view and hear the acceptance speeches on CSPAN Sunday, November 20th at 8:00 PM (Eastern). If you’re not sure whether it’s worth watching, I can only tell you that I’ve always enjoyed listening to the winners speak. In 2003 the NBA decided to award Stephen King with the Distinguished Contribution to American Letters award–a highly controversial move. Then King, himself, caught everyone’s attention when he “took the award to task.” All is not peachy-keen in the literary world and this particular night, King had quite a few comments about the constant clash between the highbrow and the lowbrow literary divisions. I wonder why? (If you’ve noticed, King’s newly released LISEY’S STORY has been called a genre-literary crossover.)

I watched King’s speech on CSPAN and loved every minute. You can read the transcript of King’s speech generously provided by the National Book Awards. You might also enjoy reading the introduction speech given by Walter Mosley.

Want to know who’s up for the 2006 awards? Click on “Continue reading” for the list of finalists.

FICTION
Mark Z. Danielewski, Only Revolutions (Pantheon)
Ken Kalfus, A Disorder Peculiar to the Country (Ecco/HarperCollins)
Richard Powers, The Echo Maker (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Dana Spiotta, Eat the Document (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
Jess Walter, The Zero (Judith Regan Books/HarperCollins)

NONFICTION
Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 (Simon & Schuster)
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (Alfred A. Knopf)
Timothy Egan, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (Houghton Mifflin)
Peter Hessler, Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present (HarperCollins)
Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Alfred A. Knopf)

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE
M.T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party (Candlewick Press)
Martine Leavitt, Keturah and Lord Death (Front Street Books/Boyds Mills Press)
Patricia McCormick, Sold (Hyperion Books for Children)
Nancy Werlin, The Rules of Survival (Dial/Penguin)
Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese (First Second/Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck)

POETRY
Louise Glück, Averno (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
H.L. Hix, Chromatic (Etruscan Press)
Ben Lerner, Angle of Yaw (Copper Canyon Press)
Nathaniel Mackey, Splay Anthem (New Directions)
James McMichael, Capacity (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)


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