Books Honored by the National Book Awards
The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. Since 1996, independent panels of five writers have chosen the National Book Award winners in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature.
The first African-American writer to win a National Book Award was Ralph Ellison for Invisible Man. Since the Award’s inception many Black writers have been honored. The National Book Awards have been supportive of AALBC.com and we are proud to showcase these authors as they represent the best of American literature. Thanks to Sherrie Young, the National Book Award’s Director of Marketing and Special Projects, for her support in compiling this information (more).
One Book Honored by the National Book Awards in 1953
Winner - Fiction
by Ralph Ellison
Publication Date: Mar 14, 1995
List Price: $15.95 Format: Paperback
Page Count: 581
Imprint: Vintage Books
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.
On March 16, 1950, publishers, editors, writers, and critics gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to celebrate the first annual National Book Awards, an award given to writers by writers. The American Book Publisher’s Council, The Book Manufacturers’ Institute, and The American Booksellers’ Association jointly sponsored the Awards, bringing together the American literary community for the first time to honor the year’s best work in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. As the Boston Herald reported the following day, “literary history was indeed in the making.”