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Shadow Country Steps Into the Light for National Book Award

Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen

Congratulations to Peter Matthiessen, whose latest novel Shadow Country has won the 2008 National Book Award for fiction. All four winners were delighted and honoured to be nominated, let alone selected as winners. But it was especially satisfying for 81-year-old Matthiessen, whose first brush with the National Book Award was in 1966.

Matthiessen, 81, had some words of wisdom for his fellow nominees. He reminded them that when he didn’t win the award in 1966 for his novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord, someone told him, “Oh well, you’ll be back.”

“I was encouraged,” Matthiessen said. “I want to tell all those guys … they’ll be back. They’re wonderful writers. They’re going to be back. I just hope it doesn’t take them 43 years like me.”

The other winners were Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family for Nonfiction, Judy Blundell’s What I saw and How I Lied for Young People’s Literature, and Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems in the poetry category.

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