Colum McCann Wins National Book Award

Dave Eggers, Gore Vidal also honored at New York ceremony
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2009 9:12 AM CST
Colum McCann Wins National Book Award
National Book Award winners for 2009 Phillip Hoose, left, T.J. Stiles, second from left, Colum McCann, second from right, and Keith Waldrop.   (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

Irish-born author Colum McCann won the National Book Award for his novel Let the Great World Spin, a fictional take on the effects of Philippe Petit’s 1970s tightrope walk between the Twin Towers on multiple New Yorkers. The non-fiction prize at last night’s ceremony went to TJ Stiles for his biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt, The First Tycoon. The poetry award went to Keith Waldrop for Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy.

The prize for children’s literature went to Phillip Hoose for his Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, a biography of a black woman who refused to give her seat on a Montgomery bus nine months before Rosa Parks did. Dave Eggers won a community service award, while Gore Vidal took the award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters with a cryptic speech, the New York Times reports. “Nowadays it seems the progress of literature is to first print the book and then pulp it,” he said. (More Colum McCann stories.)

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