They say human happiness depends largely on your position (social, economic) relative to those around you, an axiom that would explain why the bunch of struggling New York writers at the National Book Awards on Wall Street seemed so giddy in press reports about the "determined... party." "Our dinner here is larger than it's been in five years... we have an afterparty (with) 300, 400 people coming," the executive director of the foundation behind the gala told GalleyCat (video after the jump). Call it the awards' year of hope, then, particularly with the hopey president-elect getting a shout-out in several speeches and an African American author taking home the nonfiction prize for the first time since 1991. A short (fun!) video and winners after the jump.
Nonfiction: Annette Gordon-Reed's account of three generations of a slave family owned by Thomas Jefferson, "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.”
Fiction: Peter Matthiessen took the Fiction Award for "Shadow Country," about a sugarcane farmer and outlaw suspected serial killer.
Poetry: Mark Doty's "Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems."
Young People's Literature Award: "What I Saw and How I Lied," Judy Blundell.
2008 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters: Maxine Hong Kingston.
2008 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community: Barney Rosset, publisher, Grove Press and The Evergreen Review.