November 26 – December 3, 2009 Edition National Book Award Winners Honored

This year’s finest authors were honored November 18 at The 60th National Book Awards Ceremony in New York’s Cipriani Wall Street. The winners were chosen from 236 nominees in the fiction category, 481 nominees in nonfiction, 161 nominees in poetry, and 251 hopefuls in young people’s literature. In 2009, 193 publishers submitted 1,129 books for the award.

Winners are :

Fiction:  Culum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House) Non-Fiction: T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf) Poetry: Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy
(University of California Press) Young People’s Literature: Phillip Hoose, Claudette Culvin: Twice Toward Justice
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

In presenting the fiction award, judges wrote of McCann: “Like the funambulist at the heart of this extraordinary novel, Culum McCann accomplishes a gravity-defying feat: from ten ordinary lives he crafts an indelibly hallucinatory portrait of a decaying New York City, and offers through his generosity of spirit and lyrical gifts an ecstatic vision of the human courage required to stay aloft above the ever-yawning abyss.”

Of Stiles’ non-fiction work, the judges said: “With deep and imaginative research and graceful writing, T. J. Stiles’s The First Tycoon tells the extraordinary story of a brutally competitive man who was hard to love but irresistibly interesting as a truly pivotal historical figure. With few letters and no diaries, and with layers of legend to carve through, Stiles captures Cornelius Vanderbilt as a person and as a force who shaped the transportation revulution, all but invented unbridled American capitalism, and left his mark not only all over New York City but, for better or worse, all over our economic landscape.”

Each Winner  received $10,000 and a bronze statue; each Finalist received a bronze medal and $1,000.

The National Book Awards were founded in 1950 to recognize the best of American literature, raising the cultural appreciation of great writing in the country while advancing the careers of both established and emerging writers.

Interviews and a complete list of finalists and other honorees.