Colson Whitehead, Rep. John Lewis Win National Book Awards


As people of ideas tremble and vow to fight the reality of a Neanderthal-led America, the National Book Awards me last night to bestow prizes on a handful of winners, a majority of which deal with the history of racial struggle in America.

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, the heaviest hitter of the year, is a magical realist exploration of that fabled escape route. March by Congressman John Lewis and collaborators Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin is the final installment of a graphic novel trilogy that looks back on the Civil rights era through Lewis’s perspective. During his acceptance speech, Lewis was moved to tears. But he also had some strong words about Trump in an interview with NPR.

“The past week has mad me feel like I’m living my life all over again — that we have to fight some of the same fights,” Lewis said. “To see some of the bigotry, the hate, I think there are forces that want to take us back.”

Here are the winners:

Fiction: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Nonfiction: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Young People’s Literature: March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Poetry; The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky