The 2009 National Book Awards were presented on Wednesday.
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, by T.J. Stiles
A gripping, groundbreaking biography of the combative man whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism. Founder of a dynasty, builder of the original Grand Central, creator of an impossibly vast fortune, Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt is an American icon. This is a sweeping, fast-moving epic, and a complex portrait of the great man.
Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy, by Keith Waldrop
In these quasi-abstract, experimental lines, collaged words torn from their contexts take on new meanings. These powerful poems, at once metaphysical and personal, reconcile Waldrop’s romantic tendencies with formal experimentation, uniting poetry and philosophy, and revealing him as a transcendentalist for the new millennium.
Young People’s Literature Winner:
On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery. Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure.