James McBride, George Packer Win National Book Awards

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After months of longlists, shortlists, and a strange tie-in with msnbc's Morning Joe, the National Book Award winners were finally announced tonight. Here they are!

  • Young People's Literature: The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata
  • Poetry: Incarnadine, by Mary Szybist
  • Nonfiction: The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, by George Packer
  • Fiction: The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride

Here's McBride accepting his award:

McBride was "noticeably shocked," according to Millions, saying: "I didn't think I would win today ... If any of the other writers had won, I wouldn’t feel bad because they are all fine writers, but it sure is nice to win."

He probably wasn't the only one who was surprised. Thomas Pynchon and Jhumpa Lahiri were favored to win the fiction prize, while New Yorker scribes Lawrence Wright and Jill Lepore were favorites in the nonfiction category. The Daily Beast asked a "color expert" to try to predict the winners based on the book covers. She got one out of four. That's still better than The Huffington Post, which didn't get any.

Recommended Reading

If you aren't thrilled with this year's crop, there's always the National Outdoor Book Awards, which were announced just last week. Jeffrey E. Belth's Butterflies of Indiana: A Field Guide took home one of the 10 prizes there.

In what is surely some kind of symbolic statement on how the Internet age has destroyed the publishing industry, the National Book Foundation's Twitter account encountered difficulties at the worst possible time and was reduced to tweeting confused, nonsensical messages instead of most of the actual winners:

But things worked out in the end:


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.