November 15-30, 2005 Edition

William T. Vollmann

Wins 2005 National Book

Award for Europe Central

New York, NY/11/17/2005—William T. Vollmann was presented with the 2005 National Book Award for fiction on November 16 at an awards dinner in New York City.

His book, Europe Central, is described as “a mesmerizing series of intertwined stories that compare and contrast the moral decisions made by various figures associated with the warring authoritarian cultures of Germany and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century.”

William T. Vollmann is the author of seven novels, three collections of stories, and one work of nonfiction. His literary awards include a PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction and a 1988 Whiting Writers Award. His journalism and fiction have been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, Spin, Gear, Granta, Grand Street and Outside Magazine.

In citing the work for the award, judges said “ Europe Central re-images a World War II where Americans are a distant presence. Like an all-hearing intelligence agent, Vollmann occupies the minds of Germans and Russians, artists and generals, victims and torturers in impossible ethical quandaries. Scrupulously researched, rigorously designed, scarifingly voiced, this omnibus is heroic art, the writer’s courageous immersion in totalitarian ugliness to retrieve forgotten moral heroes. Full of terror and pity, Vollmann’s narratives go back beyond tragedy to the historical mastery of epic.”

The list of winners and finalists for the NBA includes:


Winner: William T. Vollmann, Europe Central (Viking)

Finalists: E.L. Doctorow, The March (Random House)

Mary Gaitskill, Veronica (Pantheon)

Christopher Sorrentino, Trance (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Renè Steinke, Holy Skirts (William Morrow)


Winner: Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (Alfred A. Knopf)

Finalists:Alan Burdick , Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Leo Damrosch, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius (Houghton Mifflin)

Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers (Times Books)

Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves (Houghton Mifflin)


WINNER:W.S. Merwin, Migration: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press)

Finalists: John Ashbery, Where Shall I Wander (Ecco)

Frank Bidart, Star Dust: Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Brendan Galvin, Habitat: New and Selected Poems, 1965-2005 (Louisiana State University Press)

Vern Rutsala, The Moment’s Equation (Ashland Poetry Press)


WINNER: Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks (Alfred A. Knopf)

Finalists: Adele Griffin, Where I Want to Be (Putnam)

Chris Lynch, Inexcusable (Atheneum)Walter Dean Myers, Autobiography of My Dead Brother (HarperTempest)

Deborah Wiles, Each Little Bird That Sings (Harcourt)