2014 National Book Award Winners

ursula k le guin nba(image via npr.org)

Spoiler alert: Ursula K. Le Guin won the National Book Awards last night. All of them.

Okay, perhaps that’s misleading. Le Guin took home the 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In the process, she stole the show (and our book loving hearts) with her acceptance speech, in which she warned against confusing a “market commodity” with “art”:

“Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and a practice of an art.” (via Publisher’s Weekly)

She went on to say:

“I have had a long career and a good one, in good company. Now, here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds. But, the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.” (via Publisher’s Weekly)

Electric Literature pointed us toward this video of her speech:

That noise you heard last night that sounded a bit like thunder? It was book Twitter erupting in applause. Following her galvanizing speech, those of us refreshing our feeds had plenty of time to consider Le Guin’s words while we waited for everyone at the National Book Awards party to finish eating dinner…..

….After what seemed an interminable length of jazz music playing on the live feed, the ceremony resumed and the winners were announced. Here they are, in all of their book jacket glory, the 2014 winners of the National Book Awards:

Young People’s Literature
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
(We have signed copies!)

brown girl dreaming

Faithful and Virtuous Night: Poems by Louise Gluck

faithful and virtous night

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth,
and Faith in the New China
by Evan Osnos

age of ambition

Redeployment by Phil Kay


Congratulations to all of the authors whose books were nominated. (Special shout out to Austinite Elizabeth McCracken, whose story collection Thunderstruck & Other Stories was longlisted for the Fiction prize this year.)

And here’s to Ursula K. Le Guin for honoring the art form and reminding all of us why we tuned in last night; not to sell books, but to celebrate them.

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