Here Are the Winners of the 2019 National Book Awards

Winners of the 70th annual National Book Awards were celebrated Wednesday

National Book Awards
Susan Choi's "Trust Exercise" won the prize for fiction.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / November 21, 2019 10:10 am

Five writers took home National Book Awards at Wednesday night’s ceremony in Manhattan. The honorees, whose work was selected out of more than 1,700 books submitted for consideration, were awarded last night at the event’s 70th annual celebration.

The five winners are:

Fiction: Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise

Nonfiction: Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House

Poetry: Arthur Sze’s Sight Lines

Translated literature: Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, by László Krasznahorkai and translator Ottilie Mulzet

Young people’s literature: Martin W. Sandler’s 1919: The Year That Changed America

Broom attributed her success to her mother’s influence influence as she addressed the room Wednesday night. “As a child, I watched her every move, seeing her eyes fall upon every word everywhere — encountered in the grocery store, on a bus, pamphlets, the package labels, my high school textbooks,” she said, according to NPR .

“She was always wolfing down words, insatiable — which is how I learned the ways in which words were a kind of sustenance, could be a beautiful relief or a greatest assault.”

This year’s National Book Award winners were also joined by other honorees acknowledged by the National Book Foundation, including Oren J. Teicher, who won the Literarian Award for his work as the chief executive at the American Booksellers Association.

Edmund White was awarded the medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the National Book Awards’ lifetime achievement award. The 79-year-old writer, whose groundbreaking work on LGBTQ matters was controversial in his early career, remarked on his rise from “the most maligned to a highly lauded writer,” calling the feat “astonishing.”

LeVar Burton, former host of Reading Rainbow, hosted. “It is the stories that we tell each other that define who we are, why we’re here, what our mission is in life,” he said. “It is storytelling that holds our civilization together.”

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