NEW YORK – James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird,” the comic and terrifying adventures of a disguised black child caught up in John Brown’s abolitionist crusade, was the winner Wednesday night of the National Book Award for fiction.
George Packer’s brutal examination of the modern class wars, “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America,” won for nonfiction during a dinner ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in downtown Manhattan.
Cynthia Kadohata’s “The Thing About Luck” won for young people’s literature and Mary Szybist’s “Incardine” won for poetry.
Winners, chosen by five member panels of writers, booksellers and others from the publishing community, each received $10,000. Honorary medals were presented to Maya Angelou, introduced and praised by Toni Morrison as a balm against the “toxicity” of the world, and E.L. Doctorow, who acknowledged the allure of the Internet and warned against its dangers.
“Everyone in this room is in the free speech business,” he said, referring to the many reports of extensive government surveillance.