National Book Award
The National Book Awards are a set of American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation
National Book Foundation
The National Book Foundation, founded in 1989, is an American nonprofit literary organization established "to raise the cultural appreciation of great writing in America." It achieves this through sponsoring the National Book Award, as well as the medal for Distinguished Contribution to American...

, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book Awards, was established. The mission of the National Book Foundation is "to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America." The awards ceremony is held each November in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...



National Book Awards are given in each of four categories: fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

, nonfiction, poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, and young people's literature. Awards have been given in various other categories since 1950, but they have since been retired or subsumed into the remaining categories. The National Book Foundation also presents two lifetime achievement awards each year: the "Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters" and the "Literarian Award."

Only publishers can submit books for the National Book Award. Each category is overseen by an independent and expert five-member judging panel. Panels typically consider hundreds of books per category each year. A total of twenty Finalists (five per category) are announced in October. A chair from each panel announces the Winner during the "National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner" held in November. Winners each receive a $10,000 cash prize and a bronze sculpture; Finalists each receive $1,000, a medal, and a citation from the panel jury.

The Foundation has expanded its celebration of American literature by creating National Book Awards Week. Beginning with 5 Under 35, which spotlights emerging fiction writers as selected and introduced by National Book Award Winners and Finalists. The event calendar continues with the National Book Awards Teen Press Conference, the private National Book Awards Medal Ceremony, and the National Book Award Finalists Reading, and culminates in the Awards Ceremony, focusing attention on the best writing in America.

In 1980 the award was canceled and in its place was created The American Book Awards. Publishers, who paid upwards of $100,000 a year for the award, had grown frustrated with the awards emphasis on a few elite titles and wanted more popular titles to be included. The new award would mimic the Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

, "It will be run almost exactly the way the Academy Awards are run," a spokesman told reporters." There would be nearly 30 prizes presented in an extravagant TV-friendly ceremony, judged by a standing "academy" of over 2,000 professionals. The implementation was poorly done and each year the ceremony scaled back until 1986 was the last year. In 1987 the National Book Award returned.

Winners of the National Book Awards

  • List of winners of the National Book Award, complete list, winners-only.
  • National Book Award for Fiction
    National Book Award for Fiction
    The National Book Award for Fiction has been given since 1950, as part of the National Book Awards, which are given annually by the National Book Foundation. Of all the awards given, the Fiction award is the only one that has been given consistently for the entire history of the Award...

    , winners and finalists.
  • National Book Award for Nonfiction
    National Book Award for Nonfiction
    The National Book Award for Nonfiction is part of the National Book Awards, which are given annually by the National Book Foundation.The National Book Foundation has announces the finalists each year in mid-October. On the day of the final ceremony, which is held in November, one winner is chosen...

    , winners and finalists.
  • National Book Award for Poetry
    National Book Award for Poetry
    The National Book Award for Poetry has been given since 1950 and is part of the National Book Awards, which are given annually for outstanding literary works by American citizens...

    , winners and finalists.
  • National Book Award for Young People's Literature
    National Book Award for Young People's Literature
    The National Book Award for Young People's Literature is part of the National Book Awards, which are given annually by the National Book Foundation....

    , winners and finalists.

Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

The "Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters" (DCAL) is a lifetime achievement award. The medal comes with a cash prize of $10,000. The recipient is a person who "has enriched American literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work."
  • 1991: Eudora Welty
    Eudora Welty
    Eudora Alice Welty was an American author of short stories and novels about the American South. Her novel The Optimist's Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. Welty was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous awards. She was the first living author to have her works published...

  • 1992: James Laughlin
    James Laughlin
    James Laughlin was an American poet and literary book publisher who founded New Directions Publishers.- Biography :He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Hughart and Marjory Rea Laughlin...

  • 1993: Clifton Fadiman
    Clifton Fadiman
    Clifton P. "Kip" Fadiman was an American intellectual, author, editor, radio and television personality.-Literary career:...

  • 1994: Gwendolyn Brooks
    Gwendolyn Brooks
    Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was an American poet. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.-Biography:...

  • 1995: David McCullough
    David McCullough
    David Gaub McCullough is an American author, narrator, historian, and lecturer. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award....

  • 1996: Toni Morrison
    Toni Morrison
    Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved...

  • 1997: Studs Terkel
    Studs Terkel
    Louis "Studs" Terkel was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for The Good War, and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.-Early...

  • 1998: John Updike
    John Updike
    John Hoyer Updike was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic....

  • 1999: Oprah Winfrey
    Oprah Winfrey
    Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

  • 2000: Ray Bradbury
    Ray Bradbury
    Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

  • 2001: Arthur Miller
    Arthur Miller
    Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...

  • 2002: Philip Roth
    Philip Roth
    Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained fame with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of Jewish-American life that earned him a National Book Award...

  • 2003: Stephen King
    Stephen King
    Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

  • 2004: Judy Blume
    Judy Blume
    Judy Blume is an American author. She has written many novels for children and young adults which have exceeded sales of 80 million and been translated into 31 languages...

  • 2005: Norman Mailer
    Norman Mailer
    Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S...

  • 2006: Adrienne Rich
    Adrienne Rich
    Adrienne Cecile Rich is an American poet, essayist and feminist. She has been called "one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century."-Early life:...

  • 2007: Joan Didion
    Joan Didion
    Joan Didion is an American author best known for her novels and her literary journalism. Her novels and essays explore the disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos, where the overriding theme is individual and social fragmentation...

  • 2008: Maxine Hong Kingston
    Maxine Hong Kingston
    Maxine Hong Kingston is a Chinese American author and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with a BA in English in 1962. Kingston has written three novels and several works of non-fiction about the experiences of Chinese immigrants living in the United...

  • 2009: Gore Vidal
    Gore Vidal
    Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar , outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality...

  • 2010: Tom Wolfe
    Tom Wolfe
    Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

  • 2011: John Ashbery
    John Ashbery
    John Lawrence Ashbery is an American poet. He has published more than twenty volumes of poetry and won nearly every major American award for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. But Ashbery's work still proves controversial...

Literarian Award

The "Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community" is a lifetime achievement award. It is "presented to an individual for outstanding service to the American literary community, whose life and work exemplify the goals of the National Book Foundation to expand the audience for literature and to enhance the cultural value of literature in America."
  • 2005: Lawrence Ferlinghetti
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti is an American poet, painter, liberal activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers...

  • 2006: Robert B. Silvers
    Robert B. Silvers
    Robert Benjamin Silvers is an American editor who has served as editor of The New York Review of Books since 1963. According to a 2007 Vanity Fair article, "Jason Epstein's assessment of Silvers as 'The most brilliant editor of a magazine ever to have worked in this country' has been 'shared by...

     and Barbara Epstein
    Barbara Epstein
    Barbara Epstein was a literary editor and a founding co-editor of the New York Review of Books.Epstein, née Zimmerman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, to a Jewish-American family, and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1949.Ms...

  • 2007: Terry Gross
    Terry Gross
    Terry Gross is the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air, an interview format radio show produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio....

  • 2008: Barney Rosset
    Barney Rosset
    Barnet Lee Rosset, Jr. is the former owner of the publishing house Grove Press, and publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Evergreen Review. He led a successful legal battle to publish the uncensored version of D. H. Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, and later was the American...

  • 2009: Dave Eggers
    Dave Eggers
    Dave Eggers is an American writer, editor, and publisher. He is known for the best-selling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and for his more recent work as a screenwriter. He is also the co-founder of the literacy project 826 Valencia.-Life:Eggers was born in Boston, Massachusetts,...

  • 2010: Joan Ganz Cooney
    Joan Ganz Cooney
    Joan Ganz Cooney is an American television producer. She is one of the founders of the Children's Television Workshop , the organization famous for the creation of the children's television show Sesame Street. Cooney received her B.A...

  • 2011: Mitchell Kaplan


The award has received occasional criticism over the years. Laura Miller, writing in Salon (Oct 12, 2011), said the Fiction award has became a Newbery Medal
Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association . The award is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922. ...

 for adults: Good for you whether you like it or not. She said "the impression has arisen that already-successful titles are automatically sidelined in favor of books that the judges feel deserve an extra boost of attention.. the nominated books [often] exhibit qualities — a poetic prose style, elliptical or fragmented storytelling — that either don’t matter much to nonprofessional readers, or even put them off." She clams the NBA has become irrelevant to average readers and of more interest to professional writers. Craig Fehrman said "..the National Book Awards [are] known for this sort of thing. They're awards for insiders."

See also

  • The Man Booker Prize
    Man Booker Prize
    The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and...

  • The Commonwealth Writers Prize
  • The Prix Goncourt
    Prix Goncourt
    The Prix Goncourt is a prize in French literature, given by the académie Goncourt to the author of "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year"...

  • The Costa Book Awards
    Costa Book Awards
    The Costa Book Awards are a series of literary awards given to books by authors based in Great Britain and Ireland. They were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2005, after which Costa Coffee, a subsidiary of Whitbread, took over sponsorship....

    , formerly the Whitbread Book Awards
  • The Governor General's Award
    Governor General's Award
    The Governor General's Awards are a collection of awards presented by the Governor General of Canada, marking distinction in a number of academic, artistic and social fields. The first was conceived in 1937 by Lord Tweedsmuir, a prolific author of fiction and non-fiction who created the Governor...

  • Literary festival
    Literary festival
    A literary festival, also known as a book festival or writers' festival, is a regular gathering of writers and readers, typically on an annual basis in a particular city...

External links

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