Oh yes, the National Book Award

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel

 Colum McCann was awarded the National Book Award for his fifth novel “Let the Great World Spin.” The book chronicles the impact on the lives of several New Yorkers who witness the daring tightrope walk of a man balanced between the Twin Towers in 1970s New York.
Author Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward JusticePhillip Hoose was awarded in the Young people’s Literature category for his book, “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice,” a biography of the life of Claudette Colvin who refused to give her seat up to a white man 9 months before Rosa Parks’ refusal, but whose story has been largely hidden, because she was deemed an “unacceptable” womyn to represent the boycott. She was deemed “inappropriate” for a test case because she was a teenager and because she was pregnant by the time her case went to trial.
Colvin herself believes that her skin color, as compared to Rosa Parks, her class, and age also played a role in her erasure from history. 
The NY Times article that announced the award winner’s after last night’s ceremony at Cipriani in New York noted that National Book Award winners receive far less attention than Pulitzer-prize winner or Man-Booker Prize winners. As a huge fan of Man-Booker Prize winning books, this rang true for me. I wait each year for both the short and long list of the Bookers and then eagerly add each to my reading list. But the National Book Award holds no similar pull for me. I am not sure why.
I think it may have to do with the marketing – both of the National Book Award, but also of the publishers who are nominated, not doing enough. For my part, I stumbled onto Man Booker prize winners, reading over the course of a year, several books I truly loved, only to discover they were either on the long or short list of Bookers. No such discovery, or literary stumbling has happened for me for the National Book Award.
I think the Times asks a good question though. It makes me want to explore more National Book Award winners.

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