Books Honored by the National Book Awards

National Book Award Medals

The mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. National Book Awards are given five categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature.

The first African-American writer to win a National Book Award was Ralph Ellison for Invisible Man.

Check Out AALBC’s Coverage of the National Book Awards:  20172016201520142013


4 Books Honored by the National Book Awards in 1983

Winner - Children’s Books

Marked By Fire
by Joyce Carol Thomas

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $15.99
    Format: Hardcover, 192 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781423101437
    Imprint: Hyperion Book CH
    Publisher: Hachette Book Group
    Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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    Read a Description of Marked By Fire


    Book Description: 

    Fire is Warm
    Abyssinia Jackson grew up under a vast Oklahoma sky shaded with pecan trees and dotted by endless rows of cotton-pickers cotton. She had the gift of song, a storyteller’s talent, the love of her parents, and the affection and pride of her community.

    Fire Can Burn
    Then a tornado hits and drives Abby’s family apart. A deranged neighbor targets her for a campaign of vengeful terror. And a vicious physical assault all but breaks her will.

    Marked by Fire
    In a triumphant story of faith and fortitude, Abby emerges clearly as a young woman who faces pain and joy with the dignity of her heritage and the determination of spirit.

    Joyce Carol Thomas’s beautifully written first novel, a 1983 National Book Award winner, remains as poignant and moving today as it was 25 years ago when it was first published.

    Winner - Fiction

    The Color Purple
    by Alice Walker

      Publication Date:
      List Price: $14.95
      Format: Paperback, 300 pages
      Classification: Fiction
      ISBN13: 9780156028356
      Imprint: Mariner Books
      Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
      Parent Company: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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      Read Our Review of The Color Purple


      Read a Description of The Color Purple


      Book Description: 
      • Now a Broadway musical
      • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
      • Winner of the National Book Award

      Published to unprecedented acclaim, The Color Purple established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. This is the story of two sisters—one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

      “Intense emotional impact… Indelibly affecting… Alice Walker is a lavishly gifted writer.” — New York Times Book Review

      “Places Walker in the company of Faulkner.” — The Nation

      “Superb… A work to stand beside literature of any time and place.” — San Francisco Chronicle

      “A novel of permanent importance.” — Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek


      Winner - First Novel

      The Women of Brewster Place
      by Gloria Naylor

        Publication Date:
        List Price: $16.00
        Format: Paperback, 192 pages
        Classification: Fiction
        ISBN13: 9780140066906
        Imprint: Penguin Books
        Publisher: Penguin Random House
        Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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        Read a Description of The Women of Brewster Place


        Book Description: 
        Once the home of poor Irish and Italian immigrants, Brewster Place, a rotting tenement on a dead-end street, now shelters black families. This novel portrays the courage, the fear, and the anguish of some of the women there who hold their families together, trying to make a home. Among them are: Mattie Michael, the matriarch who loses her son to prison; Etta Mae Johnson who tries to trade the ’high life’ for marriage with a local preacher; Kiswana Browne who leaves her middle-class family to organize a tenant’s union.


        Finalist - Children’s Books

        Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush
        by Virginia Hamilton

        Publication Date:
        List Price: $8.99
        Format: Paperback, 224 pages
        Classification: Children’s
        ISBN13: 9780380651931
        Imprint: Amistad
        Publisher: HarperCollins
        Parent Company: News Corporation
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        Read a Description of Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush


        Book Description: 
        Why had he come to her, with his dark secrets from a long-ago past? What was the purpose of their strange, haunting journeys back into her own childhood? Was it to help Dab, her retarded older brother, wracked with mysterious pain who sometimes took more care and love than Tree had to give? Was it for her mother, Vy, who loved them the best she knew how, but wasn’t home enough to ease the terrible longing?Whatever secrets his whispered message held, Tree knew she must follow. She must follow Brother Rush through the magic mirror, and find out the truth. About all of them.


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