Congratulations to James McBride, whose 3rd novel The Good Lord Bird has won the 2013 National Book Award for fiction. This historical fictional novel details the story of Henry Shackleford, a young slave in mid-19th-century Kansas, and his struggle to stay alive at the side of legendary abolitionist John Brown.
The original goal of the National Book Awards was to enhance America’s awareness of exceptional books written by fellow Americans. For six decades, the National Book Awards, which are organized by the National Book Foundation, has acclaimed the cream of the literary crop and celebrated its 60th anniversary with a campaign to select the best book from its long list of fiction winners.
The overall winner, and something of a surprise victor, was The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor following a public vote.
The National Book Awards began in 1950 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City when The Man With the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren was named America’s premier piece of fiction from the previous year. Today, it’s the most important event on the American literary calendar and continues to recognize the best in American writing.
Recent winners have included Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson, Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. These acclaimed novels now sit alongside the likes of From Here To Eternity, Invisible Man, Herzog, Gravity’s Rainbow, Rabbit is Rich, All The Pretty Horses and Cold Mountain. The list of winning authors reads like a who’s who of American literature – Wallace Stegner, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, E Annie Proulx and many more.
(Note: Dates show year of the award.)