What Is the National Book Award?

One of the most prominent literary awards in the United States is the The National Book Awards. They were founded in 1950 by a group of publishers with the intention of bringing public awareness to American authors. Publishers wanted to increase readership and give incentive for improving America’s cultural writing. They also wanted to bring national recognition to their peers. The awards are selected by writers for writers and are presented annually for literature written by an American author and published in the prior year. The National Book Awards are administered by the National Book Foundation which oversees the selection process and yearly activities leading up to the awards. The National Book Award has several categories as well as two separate lifetime achievement awards. If you are a U.S. author with works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, this is one of the ultimate awards you can receive.

History of the National Book Awards

The first annual National Book Awards were held on March 16, 1950, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The American Book Publisher’s Council, The Book Manufacturers’ Institute, and The American Booksellers’ Association had all sponsored and set up the Awards. A large group that consisted of publishers, writers, and critics had gathered to witness the first of what was to become a major national award. The idea was for the award to be given to writers for their excellence in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

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Over the next couple of decades, other categories were added, including Science, Philosophy, Biography, Religion, Autobiography, History, Arts and Letters, First Novel, Translation, Contemporary Thought, Original Paperback, and Children’s Book. Then in 1980, the National Book Awards went through a major change when several publishers decided to add even more categories. They wanted to increase awareness by recognizing even more American authors. The name of the National Book Awards was changed to the American Book Awards which now consisted of a total of 16 categories and 28 separate prizes. Winners were now chosen by a committee that included publishers, librarians, critics, and writers. But instead of improving the awards, many felt that they had lost their merit and that the awards no longer carried the significance that they once had. The name and category change lasted until 1986 when the current board of directors reduced the number of categories down to three and changed the name back to the National Book Awards. Also, the awards were now chosen by writers for other writers. Then in 1988, the National Book Foundation was created to oversee the guidance of the awards and make sure that all the rules and regulations were correctly followed.

Criteria for the National Book Awards

The current rules for the National Book Awards have been in effect since 1996. Winners are nominated in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. Entries for the annual National Book Awards are nominated by publishers, however, board members can ask for a publisher to nominate a specific book. Only books written by American authors between December 1 of the previous year and November 30 of the following year are eligible.

Each category is judged by a panel of five writers who have written and published works in that category. The judges are nominated by previous National Book Award Winners, Finalists, and judges. The final panels are then selected by the Foundation’s Executive Director along with the Board of Directors. The panels change every year so rarely do judges serve back-to-back on panels. When going over the nominees, judges review literally hundreds of books in each category. When the panels deliberate, all of their discussions are held separate and independent from the Foundation. The members of the National Book Foundation only determine a submission’s eligibility. Serving as a judge is completely voluntary but as compensation, each judge receives $2,500 while the panel chairs receive $3,000 for their efforts.

During the The National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner which is held each year in November, the chair from each panel announces the runners-up and winners. On the day of the National Book Awards Ceremony the judges meet to select the National Book Award winners. The rpize for each winner is $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. Finalists also receive a prize of $1,000, a medal, and a citation.

National Book Award Winners

The winners of the National Book Award from 1950 to present are as follows:

2008

Fiction: Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country

NonFiction: Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Poetry: Mark Doty, Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems

Young People’s Literature: Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied

2007

Fiction: Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke

NonFiction: Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA

Poetry: Robert Hass, Time and Materials

Young People’s Literature: Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

2006

Fiction: The Echo Maker by Richard Powers

NonFiction: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

Poetry: Splay Anthem by Nathaniel Mackey

Young People’s Literature: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson

2005

Fiction: Europe Central by William T. Vollmann

NonFiction: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Poetry: Migration: New and Selected Poems by W.S. Merwin

Young People’s Literature: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

2004

Fiction: Lily Tuck, The News from Paraguay

NonFiction: Kevin Boyle, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

Poetry: Jean Valentine, Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003

Young People’s Literature: Pete Hautman, The Godless

2003

Fiction: Shirley Hazzard, The Great Fire

NonFiction: Carlos Eire, Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy

Poetry: C.K. Williams, The Singing

Young People’s Literature: Polly Horvath, The Canning Season

2002

Fiction: Julia Glass, Three Junes

NonFiction: Robert A. Caro, Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Poetry: Ruth Stone, In the Next Galaxy

Young People’s Literature: Nancy Farmer, The House of the Scorpion

2001

Fiction: Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections

NonFiction: Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Poetry: Alan Dugan, Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry

Young People’s Literature: Virginia Euwer Wolff, True Believer

2000

Fiction: Susan Sontag, In America

NonFiction: Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Poetry: Lucille Clifton, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000

Young People’s Literature: Gloria Whelan, Homeless Bird

1999

Fiction: Ha Jin, Waiting

NonFiction: John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

Poetry: Ai, Vice: New and Selected Poems

Young People’s Literature: Kimberly Willis Holt, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

1998

Fiction: Alice McDermott, Charming Billy

NonFiction: Edward Ball, Slaves in the Family

Poetry: Gerald Stern, This Time: New and Selected Poems

Young People’s Literature: Louis Sachar, Holes

1997

Fiction: Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

NonFiction: Joseph J. Ellis, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

Poetry: William Meredith, Effort at Speech: New & Selected Poems

Young People’s Literature: Han Nolan, Dancing on the Edge

1996

Fiction: Andrea Barrett, Ship Fever and Other Stories

NonFiction: James Carroll, An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us

Poetry: Hayden Carruth, Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey

Young People’s Literature: Victor Martinez, Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

1995

Fiction: Philip Roth, Sabbath’s Theater

NonFiction: Tina Rosenberg, The Haunted Land: Facing Europe’s Ghosts After Communism

Poetry: Stanley Kunitz, Passing Through: The Later Poems

1994

Fiction: William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own

NonFiction: Sherwin B. Nuland, How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter

Poetry: James Tate, A Worshipful Company of Fletchers

1993

Fiction: E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News

NonFiction: Gore Vidal, United States: Essays 1952-1992

Poetry: A. R. Ammons, Garbage

1992

Fiction: Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

NonFiction: Paul Monette, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story

Poetry: Mary Oliver, New & Selected Poems

1991

Fiction: Norman Rush, Mating

NonFiction: Orlando Patterson, Freedom

Poetry: Philip Levine, What Work Is

1990

Fiction: Charles Johnson, Middle Passage

NonFiction: Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

1989

Fiction: John Casey, Spartina

NonFiction: Thomas L. Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem

1988

Fiction: Pete Dexter, Paris Trout

NonFiction: Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam

1987

Fiction: Larry Heinemann, Paco’s Story

NonFiction: Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb

1986

Fiction: E.L. Doctorow, World’s Fair

NonFiction: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

1985

Fiction: Don DeLillo, White Noise

First Work of Fiction: Bob Shacochis, Easy in the Islands

NonFiction: J. Anthony Lukas, Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families

1984

Fiction: Ellen Gilchrist, Victory Over Japan: A Book of Stories

First Work of Fiction: Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra

NonFiction: Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845

1983

Autobiography/Biography (hardcover): Judith Thurman, Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller

Autobiography/biography (paperback): James R. Mellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Time

Children’s Book, Fiction (hardcover): Jean Fritz, Homesick: My Own Story

Children’s Book, Fiction (paperback): Joyce Carol Thomas, A Place Apart, Paula Fox; Marked By Fire

Children’s Book, NonFiction: James Cross Giblin, Chimney Sweeps

Children’s Picture Book (hardcover): William Steig, Miss Rumphius; Barbara Cooney, Doctor De Soto

Children’s Picture Book (paperback): Mary Ann Hoberman, A House Is a House for Me

Fiction (hardcover): Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Fiction (paperback): Eudora Welty, The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty

First Novel: Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place

General Nonfiction (hardcover): Fox Butterfield, China: Alive in the Bitter Sea

General Nonfiction (paperback): James Fallows, National Defense

History (hardcover): Alan Brinkley, Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin and The Great Depression

History (paperback): Frank E. Manuel and Fritzie P. Manuel, Utopian Thought in the Western World

Original Paperback: Lisa Goldstein, The Red Magician

Poetry: Charles Wright, Selected Poems, Galway Kinnell, Country Music: Selected Early Poems

Science (hardcover): Abraham Pais, “Subtle Is the Lord…”: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein

Science (paperback): Philip P. Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience

Translation: Richard Howard, Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal

1982

Autobiography/Biography (hardcover): David McCullough, Mornings on Horseback

Autobiography/biography (paperback): Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century

Children’s Book, Fiction (hardcover): Lloyd Alexander, Westmark

Children’s Book, Fiction (paperback): Ouida Sebestyen, Words by Heart

Children’s Book, NonFiction: Susan Bonners, A Penguin Year

Children’s Book, Picture Book (hardcover): Maurice Sendak, Outside Over There

Children’s Book, Picture Book (paperback): Peter Spier, Noah’s Ark

Fiction (hardcover): John Updike, Rabbit Is Rich

Fiction (paperback): William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow

First Novel: Robb Forman Dew, Dale Loves Sophie to Death

General Nonfiction (hardcover): Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine

General Nonfiction (paperback): Victor S. Navasky, Naming Names

History (hardcover): Father Peter John Powell, People of the Sacred Mountain: A History of the Northern Cheyenne Chiefs and Warrior Societies, 1830-1879

History (paperback): Robert Wohl, The Generation of 1914

Poetry: William Bronk, Life Supports: New and Collected Poems

Science (hardcover): Donald C. Johanson and Maitland A. Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind

Science (paperback): Fred Alan Wolf, Taking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Nonscientists

Translation: Robert Lyons Danly, Higuchi Ichiyo’s In the Shade of Spring Leaves; Robert Lyons Danly, The Ten Thousand Leaves: A Translation of the Man’Yoshu, Japan’s Premier Anthology of Classical Poetry

1981

Autobiography/Biography (hardcover): Justin Kaplan, Walt Whitman

Autobiography/biography (paperback): Deidre Bair, Samuel Beckett

Children’s Book, Fiction (hardcover): Betsy Byars, The Night Swimmers

Children’s Book, Fiction (paperback): Beverly Cleary, Ramona and Her Mother

Children’s Book, Nonfiction (hardcover): Alison Cragin Herzig and Jane Lawrence Mali, Oh, Boy! Babies

Fiction (hardcover): Wright Morris, Plains Song

Fiction (paperback): John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

First Novel: Ann Arensberg, Sister Wolf

General Nonfiction (hardcover): Maxine Hong Kingston, China Men

General Nonfiction (paperback): Jane Kramer, The Last Cowboy

History (hardcover): John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality

History (paperback): Leon F. Litwak, Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery

Poetry: Lisel Mueller, The Need to Hold Still

Science (hardcover): Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections on Natural History

Science (paperback): Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail

Translation: John E. Woods, The Letters of Gustave Flaubert; Francis Steegmuller, Arno Schmidt’s Evening Edged in Gold

1980

Autobiography (hardcover): Lauren Bacall, By Myself

Autobiography (paperback): Malcolm Cowley, And I Worked at the Writer’s Trade

Biography (hardcover): Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Biography (paperback): A. Scott Berg, Max Perkins:Editor of Genius

Children’s Book (hardcover): Joan W. Blos, A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal

Children’s Book (paperback): Madeleine L’Engle, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Current Interest (hardcover): Julia Child, Julia Child and More Company

Current Interest (paperback): Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism

Fiction (hardcover): William Styron, Sophie’s Choice

Fiction (paperback): John Irving, The World According to Garp

First Novel: William Wharton, Birdy

General Nonfiction (hardcover): Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

General Nonfiction (paperback): Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

General Reference (hardcover): Elder Witt, ed., The Complete Directory

General Reference (paperback): Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, Complete Directory to Prime Network TV Shows: 1946-Present

History (hardcover): Henry A. Kissinger, White House Years

History (paperback): Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Mystery (hardcover): John D. MacDonald, The Green Ripper

Mystery (paperback): William F. Buckley, Jr., Stained Glass

Poetry: Philip Levine, Ashes

Religion/Inspiration (hardcover): Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

Religion/Inspiration (paperback): Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

Science (hardcover): Douglas Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Science (paperback): Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics

Science Fiction (hardcover): Frederick Pohl, Jem

Science Fiction (paperback): Walter Wangerin, Jr., The Book of the Dun Cow

Translation: William Arrowsmith, Cesare Pavese’s Hard Labor; Jane Gary Harris and Constance Link, Osip E. Mandelstam’s Complete Critical Prose and Letters

Western: Louis L’Amour, Bendigo Shafter

1979

Biography/AutoBiography: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Robert Kennedy and His Times

Children’s Book: Katherine Paterson, The Great Gilly Hopkins

Contemporary Thought: Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

Fiction: Tim O’Brian, Going After Cacciato

History: Richard Beale Davis, Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1760

Poetry: James Merrill, Mirabell: Books of Number

Translation: Clayton Eshleman and Jose Rubin Barcia, Cesar Vallejo’s The Complete Posthumous Poetry

1978

Biography/AutoBiography: W. Jackson Bate, Samuel Johnson

Children’s Literature: Herbert Kohl and Judith Kohl, The View from the Oak

Contemporary Thought: Gloria Emerson, Winners and Losers

Fiction: Mary Lee Settle, Blood Ties

History: David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914

Poetry: Howard Nemerov, The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov

Translation: Clara Winston and Richard Winston, Uwe George’s In the Deserts of This Earth

1977

Biography/AutoBiography: W.A. Swanberg, Norman Thomas: The Last Idealist

Children’s Book: Katherine Paterson, The Master Puppeteer

Contemporary Thought: Bruno Bettleheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tale

Fiction: Wallace Stegner, The Spectator Bird

History: Irving Howe, World of Our Fathers

Poetry: Richard Eberhart, Collected Poems, 1930-1976

Translation: Li-Li Ch’en, Master Tung’s Western Chamber Romance

1976

Arts and Letters: Paul Fussell, The Great War and Memory

Children’s Literature: Walter D. Edmonds, Bert Breen’s Barn

Contemporary Affairs: Michael J. Arlen, Passage to Ararat

Fiction: William Gaddis, Jr

History: David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823

Poetry: John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

1975

Arts and Letters: Roger Shattuck, Marcel Proust; Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Biography: Richard B. Sewall, The Life of Emily Dickinson

Children’s Book: Virginia Hamilton, M.C. Higgins The Great

Contemporary Affairs: Theodore Rosengarten, All Gods Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

Fiction: Robert Stone, Dog Soldiers; Thomas Williams, The Hair of Harold Roux

History: Bernard Bailyn, The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson

Philosophy and Religion: Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia

Poetry: Marilyn Hacker, Presentation Piece

Science: Silvano Arieti, Interpretation of Schizophrenia

Translation: Anthony Kerrigan, Miguel D. Unamuno’s The Agony of Christianity and Essays on Faith

1974

Arts and Letters: Pauline Kael, Deeper into the Movies

Biography: Douglas Day, Malcolm Lowry: A Biography; John Clive, Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian

Children’s Book: Eleanor Cameron, The Court of the Stone Children

Contemporary Affairs: Murray Kempton, The Briar Patch

Fiction: Isaac Bashevis Singer, A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories; Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

History: John Clive, Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian

Philosophy and Religion: Maurice Natanson, Edmund Husserl: Philosopher of Infinite Tasks

Poetry: Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck: Poems, 1971-72; Allen Ginsberg, The Fall of America: Poems of These States

Science: S.E. Lurie, Life: The Unfinished Experiment

Translation: Helen R. Lane, Octavio Paz’s: Alternating Current; Jackson Matthews, Paul Valery’s Monsieur Teste

1973

Arts and Letters: Arthur M. Wilson, Diderot

Biography: James Thomas Flexner, George Washington, Vol. IV: Anguish and Farewell, 1793-1799

Children’s Book: Ursula K. LeGuin, The Farthest Shore

Contemporary Affairs: Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam

Fiction: John Williams, Chimera, John Barth; Augustus

History: Robert Manson Myers, The Children of Pride: A True Story of Georgia and the Civil War; Isaiah Trunk, Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation

Philosophy and Religion: S.E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People

Poetry: A.R. Ammons, Collected Poems: 1951-1971

Science: George B. Schaller, The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations

Translation: Allen Mandelbaum, Virgil’s Aeneid

1972

Arts and Letters: Charles Rosen, The Classical Style: Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven

Biography: Joseph P. Lash, Eleanor and Franklin:The Story of Their Relationship, Based on Eleanor Roosevelt’s Private Papers

Children’s Book: Donald Bartheleme, The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or the Hithering Thithering Djinn

Contemporary Affairs: Stewart Brand, ed., The Last Whole Earth Catalog

Fiction: Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor

History: Allen Nevins, Ordeal of the Union, Vols. VII & VIII: The Organized War, 1863-1864 and The Organized War to Victory

Philosophy and Religion: Martin E. Marty, Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America

Poetry: Howard Moss, The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, Frank O’Hara; Selected Poems

Science: George L. Small, The Blue Whale

Translation: Austryn Wainhouse, Jacques Monod’s Chance and Necessity

1971

Arts and Letters: Francis Steegmuller, Cocteau: A Biography

Children’s Book: Lloyd Alexander, The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian

Fiction: Saul Bellow, Mr. Sammler’s Planet

History and Biography: James MacGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom

Poetry: Mona Van Duyn, To See, To Take

Science: Raymond Phineas Stearns, Science in the British Colonies of America

Translation: Frank Jones, Bertolt Brecht’s Saint Joan of the Stockyards; Edward G. Seidensticker, Yasunari Kawabata’s The Sound of The Mountain

1970

Arts and Letters: Lillian Hellman, An Unfinished Woman, A Memoir

Children’s Book: Isaac Bashevis Singer, A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw

Fiction: Joyce Carol Oates, Them

History and Biography: T. Harry Williams, Huey Long

Philosophy and Religion: Erik H. Erikson, Gandhi’s Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence

Poetry: Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems

Translation: Ralph Manheim, Celine’s Castle to Castle

1969

Arts and Letters: Norman Mailer, The Armies of the Night: History As A Novel, The Novel As History

Children’s Literature: Meindert DeJong, Journey from Peppermint Street

Fiction: Jerzy Kosinski, Steps

History and Biography: Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812

Poetry: John Berryman, His Toy, His Dream, His Rest

Science: Robert J. Lifton, Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima

Translation: William Weaver, Calvino’s Cosmicomics

1968

Arts and Letters: William Troy, Selected Essays

Fiction: Thornton Wilder, The Eighth Day

History and Biography: George F. Kennan, Memoirs: 1925-1950

Poetry: Robert Bly, The Light Around the Body

Science, Philosophy, and Religion: Jonathan Kozol, Death at an Early Age

Translation: Edna Hong and Howard Hong, Soren Kirkegaard’s Journals and Papers

1967

Arts and Letters: Justin Kaplan, Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain

Fiction: Bernard Malamud, The Fixer

History and Biography: Peter Gay, The Enlightenment, Vol. 1: An Interpretation

Poetry: James Merrill, Nights and Days

Science, Philosophy, and Religion: Oscar Lewis, La Vida

Translation: Gregory Rabassa, Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch; Willard Trask, Casanova’s History of My Life

1966

Arts and Letters: Janet Flanner, Paris Journal, 1944-1965

Fiction: Katherine Anne Porter, The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter

History and Biography: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House

Poetry: James Dickey, Buckdancer’s Choice: Poems

1965

Arts and Letters: Eleanor Clark, Oysters of Lockmariaquer

Fiction: Saul Bellow, Herzog

History and Biography: Louis Fisher, The Life of Lenin

Poetry: Theodore Roethke, The Far Field

Science, Philosophy, and Religion: Norbert Wiener, God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion

1964

Arts and Letters: Aileen Ward, John Keats: The Making of a Poet

Fiction: John Updike, The Centaur

History and Biography: William H. McNeill, The Rise of the West

Poetry: John Crowe Ransom, Selected Poems

Science, Philosophy, and Religion: Christopher Tunnard and Boris Pushkarev, Man-Made America

1963

Fiction: J.F. Powers, Morte d’Urban

NonFiction: Leon Edel, Henry James: Vol. II, The Conquest of London; Vol. III, The Middle Years

Poetry: William Stafford, Traveling Through the Dark

1962

Fiction: Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

NonFiction: Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospect

Poetry: Alan Dugan, Poems

1961

Fiction: Conrad Richter, The Waters of Kronos

NonFiction: William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Poetry: Randall Jarrell, The Woman at the Washington Zoo

1960

Fiction: Philip Roth, Goodbye Columbus

NonFiction: Richard Ellman, James Joyce

Poetry: Robert Lowell, Life Studies

1959

Fiction: Bernard Malamud, The Magic Barrel

NonFiction: J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame De Stael

Poetry: Theodore Roethke, Words for the Wind

1958

Fiction: John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle

NonFiction: Catherine Drinker Bowen, The Lion and the Throne

Poetry: Robert Penn Warren, Promises: Poems, 1954-1956

1957

Fiction: Wright Morris, The Field of Vision

NonFiction: George F. Kennan, Russia Leaves the War

Poetry: Richard Wilbur, Things of the World

1956

Fiction: John O’Hara, Ten North Frederick

NonFiction: Herbert Kubly, An American in Italy

Poetry: W.H. Auden, The Shield of Achilles

1955

Fiction: William Faulkner, A Fable

NonFiction: Joseph W. Krutch, The Measure of Man

Poetry: Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens

1954

Fiction: Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March

NonFiction: Bruce Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox

Poetry: Conrad Aiken, Collected Poems

1953

Fiction: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

NonFiction: Bernard A. De Voto, The Course of an Empire

Poetry: Archibald MacLeish, Collected Poems, 1917-1952

1952

Fiction: James Jones, From Here to Eternity

NonFiction: Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

Poetry: Marianne Moore, Collected Poems

1951

Fiction: William Faulkner, The Collected Stories of William Faulkner

NonFiction: Newton Arvin, Herman Melville

Poetry: Wallace S3tevens, The Auroras of Autumn

1950

Fiction: Nelson Algren, The Man with the Golden Arm

NonFiction: Ralph L. Rusk, Ralph Waldo

Poetry: William Carlos Williams, Paterson: Book III and Selected Poems

Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

The National Book Foundation has two separate lifetime achievement awards. The first is the Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The winner of this award is an author who contributed to American literature during a lifetime of work. The award comes with a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. The past winners of the Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters are:

  • 1991 – Eudora Welty
  • 1992 – James Laughlin
  • 1993 – Clifton Fadiman
  • 1994 – Gwendolyn Brooks
  • 1995 – David McCullough
  • 1996 – Toni Morrison
  • 1997 – Studs Terkel
  • 1998 – John Updike
  • 1999 – Oprah Winfrey
  • 2000 – Ray Bradbury
  • 2001 – Arthur Miller
  • 2002 – Philip Roth
  • 2003 – Stephen King
  • 2004 – Judy Blume
  • 2005 – Norman Mailer
  • 2006 – Adrienne Rich
  • 2007 – Joan Didion
  • 2008 – Maxine Hong Kingston

Literarian Award

The Literarian Award is the second lifetime achievement award that is handed out by the National Book Foundation. It goes to the author whose work over the years best exemplifies the NBF’s goals and objectives. The Literarian Award winners from the past are:

  • 2005 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  • 2006 – Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein
  • 2007 – Terry Gross
  • 2008 – Barney Rosset