Books Honored by the National Book Awards

National Book Award Medals

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.

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2 Books Honored by the National Book Awards in 1997

Finalist - Nonfiction

My Brother
by Jamaica Kincaid

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $14.00
    Format: Paperback, 208 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9780374525620
    Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck
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    Book Description: 
    Jamaica Kincaid’s brother Devon Drew died of AIDS on January 19, 1996, at the age of thirty-three. Kincaid’s incantatory, poetic, and often shockingly frank recounting of her brother’s life and death is also a story of her family on the island of Antigua, a constellation centered on the powerful, sometimes threatening figure of the writer’s mother. My Brother is an unblinking record of a life that ended too early, and it speaks volumes about the difficult truths at the heart of all families. My Brother is a 1997 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

    Finalist - Poetry

    The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems
    by Marilyn Nelson

      Publication Date:
      List Price: $21.95
      Format: Paperback, 224 pages
      Classification: Poetry
      ISBN13: 9780807121757
      Imprint: Louisiana State University Press
      Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
      Parent Company: Louisiana State University
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      Read a Description of The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems


      Book Description: 
      In The Fields of Praise, Marilyn Nelson claims as subjects the life of the spirit, the vicissitudes of love, and the African American experience and arranges them as white pebbles marking our common journey toward a "monstrous love / that wants to make the world right." Nelson is a poet of stunning power, able to bring alive the most rarified and subtle of experiences. A slave destined to become a minister preaches sermons of heartrending eloquence and wisdom to a mule. An old woman scrubbing over a washtub receives a personal revelation of what Emancipation means: "So this is freedom: the peace of hours like these." Memories of the heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen in the face of aerial combat abroad and virulent racism at home bring a speaker to the sudden awareness of herself as the daughter "of a thousand proud fathers."