White Men Sweep 2009 National Book Awards

Tonight, the National Book Awards gave every major award to a white man, demonstrating that snubbing women writers isn’t limited to Publishers Weekly. Even the honorary awards were given to Dave Eggers and Gore Vidal, proving that even in the 21st century, white men are still capable of winning everything.

The only woman who won an award was Flannery O’Connor for Best of the National Book Awards Fiction. Alas, she’s been dead for over forty-five years.

Here are the winners:

FICTION: Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)

NONFICTION: T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf)

POETRY: Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press)

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE: Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Be Sociable, Share!

4 Comments

  1. I’ve heard a lot about the PW top ten list,but what no one seems to notice is that in the rest of the article listing PW’s picks for Best Books of 2009 in the category breakdowns(fiction,poetry,etc),there are plenty of women writers given a shout out.

    Zoe Heller,Jayne Anne Phillips,Sarah Waters,Barbara Ehrenreich and Susan Isaacs are a few of the ladies present and newcomers such as Gail Carriger(Soulless) and Rhonda Janzen(Mennonite in a Little Black Dress)are represented as well. True,it would have nice to see a couple of those names in the Top Ten,but I think this was a rush to judgment here.

    As to the National Book Awards,the only one of the nominees that I knew anything about was Let The Great World Spin,so I’m not surprised it won. My whole complaint about the NBA is that there’s not enough of a mix between popular and arthouse titles up for nomination. Before someone gets all “What,Dan Brown should be considered here?”,I honestly don’t think it would be so terrible if a well written book with mass appeal like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,for example,got a nod here. Maybe it would broaden the interest in the awards for those not always in tune with the literary world.

  2. Lady T, there’s no point in noting that there’s lots of women in the rest of the list if they’re not in the top ten. This is a year when there were a number of books by top women writers, and all were considered not only unworthy of the PW list but also the NBA. And there were notable exclusions in both categories, women and people of color—Jhumpa Lahiri, Alice Munro, Nami Mun. White men have won EVERY YEAR since 2004 at the NBA in fiction and no black woman has won since the prize was shared by Alice Walker in the 80s. The whole thing of America, that we’re some sort of melting pot, blah blah, is just crap when it comes to our literature and it’s prizes. That’s where we learn we’re not a melting pot, just fondue.

  3. I agree with many of your points,Alex,and I also find the lack of diversity in the NBA sad as well,but to me,the real problem with the choices made by the NBA nominating committee is that they insist on thinking squarely within the box of so called “literary” writing and refusing to see beyond those horizons. In my opinion,it’s more about class than anything else.

    As to PW,I honestly don’t think they intended to leave anyone out of their Top Ten on purpose. Maybe it’s just me but when I looked at that list,my first thoughts weren’t “Oh,there’s no women authors on it” but “Have I read or heard any of these books?”(a couple were familiar to me). Perhaps I’m being naive,but I care more about the quality of the work rather than who produced it and what race,gender,etc ratio was being met by including them.

  4. Lady T, there’s no point in noting that there’s lots of women in the rest of the list if they’re not in the top ten. This is a year when there were a number of books by top women writers, and all were considered not only unworthy of the PW list but also the NBA. And there were notable exclusions in both categories, women and people of color—Jhumpa Lahiri, Alice Munro, Nami Mun. White men have won EVERY YEAR since 2004 at the NBA in fiction and no black woman has won since the prize was shared by Alice Walker in the 80s. The whole thing of America, that we’re some sort of melting pot, blah blah, is just crap when it comes to our literature and it’s prizes. That’s where we learn we’re not a melting pot, just fondue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>