Authors James McBride, George Packer win National Book Awards

Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:54am EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Writers James McBride and George Packer won National Book Awards, among the most prestigious literary prizes in U.S. publishing, at a gala dinner on Wednesday that also honored authors E.L. Doctorow and Maya Angelou.

McBride took home the 2013 National Book Foundation fiction prize for "The Good Lord Bird," an exploration of identity and survival during slavery.

It was chosen from a short list of books by authors including Rachel Kushner, previous National Book Award winner Thomas Pynchon, Jhumpa Lahiri and George Saunders.

"I didn't prepare a speech. I really didn't think I was going to be up here tonight," McBride said. "It sure is nice."

Packer won the non-fiction prize for "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America," a story about the United States that runs from 1978 to 2012 told through the lives of Americans from varying walks of life.

It competed in a category dominated by historical works by Wendy Lower, Jill Lepore, Alan Taylor and Lawrence Wright.

"This is an incredible honor," Packer said after receiving the prize at the 64th annual National Book Awards. "I feel very lucky to be given this award."

Mary Szybist won the poetry prize for "Incarnadine" and Cynthia Kadohata took home the young people's literature award for "The Thing About Luck."   Continued...

Author James McBride gestures during the "Miracle at St. Anna" news conference at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival September 7, 2008. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese