It was the second annual National Book Awards held remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Ms Robinson recording from the Penguin Random House headquarters in New York City and the authors and presenters beaming remotely. Over the past few years, hundreds of attendees have celebrated at a black-tie gala at Cipriani Wall Street.
“If there has ever been a moment that has highlighted the extraordinary experiences that books offer,” said Ruth Dickey, executive director of the National Book Foundation, “it has been the last 20 months.”
Finalists for the Fiction Prize included Lauren Groff’s âMatrix,â about an orphaned young woman who transforms a destitute convent; Anthony Doerr’s âCloud Cuckoo Landâ, a novel that spans centuries, two continents and an interstellar ship; âZorrie,â by Laird Hunt, a portrait of a woman’s life in rural Indiana; and âThe Prophets,â by Robert Jones Jr., a love story about two enslaved men on a pre-war plantation.
The non-fiction finalists included âA Little Devil in America,â a collection of essays by Hanif Abdurraqib celebrating black performers and performers; âRunning Out,â by Lucas Bessire, on a Kansas aquifer threatened with depletion and its impact on the region’s farmers and ranchers; âTastes Like War,â a memoir by Grace M. Cho, who cooks family recipes while exploring how war, xenophobia and colonialism are conveyed in the body; and “Covered With Night” by Nicole Eustace on the murder of an Aboriginal hunter in the 18th century.
MartÃn Espada won the poetry prize for âFloatersâ, a book that honors migrants who drowned in the Rio Grande. The judges said it was “vital for our time and will be for those in the future, trying to make sense of today.”
The Prize for Translated Literature was awarded to âWinter in Sokchoâ, a first novel by Elisa Shua Dusapin and translated from French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins which takes place in a South Korean seaside resort.