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Last night the 68th Annual National Book Awards were held at the Cipriani Ballroom in New York City.
In an effort to make over their image, the National Book Foundation rolled out the red carpet. The Cipriani Ballroom, “a triumph of Greek revival architecture”, was lavishly decorated in full gala fashion. The event, which took place at the Marriott years prior, chose Brooklynite “Rabbi Darkside” to DJ while guests posed for photos and sipped cocktails. There was even a rumor that movie actress-turned-author Molly Ringwald would make an appearance.
Opening ceremonies were kicked off by journalist/commentator Faith Salie, who acted as MC for the evening. The Literarian Award was then presented by NPR’s Terry Gross to New York Time’s Chairman and Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. for his “continuing efforts through the New York Times’ Book Review, online review, and ensuring the ongoing conversation about books in American culture”. Martin Amis, who recently relocated to Brooklyn from his native London, concluded the opening ceremony by awarding Crime & Western novelist Elmore Leonard the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, for his outstanding achievement in fiction writing.
After a break for dinner, Salie returned to the stage to announce the finalists. The categories ran as follows; Young Adult, Poetry, Non-fiction, and Fiction. Chair members Gary Schmidt, Laura Kasischke, Woody Holton, and Lorrie Moore acted as presenters.
Fantasy writer William Alexander took home the Young Adult award for his book Goblin Secrets. 88-year old and New Jersey born, David Ferry won the Poetry award with Bewilderment, a collection of new poems and translations. The Mumbai centered Behind the Beautiful Forevers by New Yorker writer Katherine Boo won the Non-Fiction Award. To cap off the ceremony, Louise Erdrich was presented her first National Book Award with The Round House, a novel concerning racial injustice within the Native American community. Erdrich, whose latest novel The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, had also been a finalist for Fiction with The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse.
While names like horror writer Stephen King and Terry Gross headed home, guests went up to the mezzanine for drinks and dancing. Chairman David Steinberger even boasted there was a waiting list for entrance to the after party, which ran over schedule. The evening concluded as a success for the National Book Awards and National Book Foundation.
Photos: Anita Isola