The National Book Awards 2011 were announced last night at a ceremony in a downtown New York venue.
Though the nominees announcement had been overshadowed by controversy and error, referred to briefly in one of the speeches as an "oral malfunction", the awards themselves went smoothly, and the four winners were generously applauded both in the room, and across the American literary world.
Two of the four winners, Jesmyn Ward and Nikky Finney, are African American women who address issues of race and politics in their work. Finney's acceptance speech was particularly powerful, reading a poem about slavery that she had composed for the occasion. It was described by event host John Lithgow as "the best acceptance speech I've ever heard for anything in my life."
A total of 1,223 books were submitted by publishers for consideration in the awards, for which winners receive a bronze sculpture and a check for $10,000.
The poet Ann Lauterbach, who introduced honorary award winner John Ashbery, said in her speech that “I thought I should point out, since nobody else has, that we are occupying Wall Street.” However, while the ceremony played out, a few blocks away in Zuccotti Park the recently restored Occupy Wall Street Library was being destroyed by police.
Read about this year's NBA winners below.
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