No, I’m not suddenly blogging about sports. That would be a stretch! I’m talking the National Book Awards, which were held last night (winners here). I was lucky enough to attend this year with the lovely and talented Sara Zarr, who was a judge in the Young People’s Literature category. You can read a bit about her experience judging on her blog. I can only imagine how tough it must have been to whittle the books first down to five finalists, then down to one winner. I’m just glad it wasn’t me!
The night was a lot of fun, meeting the other judges and some of the nominees, hobnobbing with illustrious publishing folk. I think it’s the only event this year that can boast both Elmo and Tom Wolfe as speakers. (My only disappointment last night was in not meeting Elmo.) But the moment of the night was most definitely Patti Smith’s acceptance speech for her nonfiction win for Just Kids. Already in tears as she walked to the stage, she recounted working at Scribner’s bookstore years ago, and how she would shelve the National Book Award winners, dreaming that someday she would write a book that could win the award. It was so genuine and so endearing. Already popular, I knew she earned even more admirers last night.
I haven’t had much time to scan the blogs today, but I’m curious what everyone thought of the winners. Has anyone even read the fiction winner?