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Author Louise Erdrich won her first National Book Award Wednesday for her novel The Round House. Erdrich was one of several authors presented awards by the National Book Foundation at Cipriani in New York City.
According to The New York Times, The Round House centers on a young boy’s investigation into an attack on his mother at a North Dakota reservation as he also begins to understand the role of violence in his culture.
The veteran author accepted the award partly in her Native American language. “This is a book about a huge case of injustice ongoing on reservations. Thank you for giving it a wider audience,” she said.
The field for the National Book Award was highly competitive. While the foundation has often nominated little-known authors, it instead nominated several highly regarded authors, like Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz and Dave Eggers.
Katherine Boo also took home an award for her debut work, the non-fiction book Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, notes The Associated Press. Boo is a Pulitzer Prize winner herself for her work as a journalist and currently works at the New Yorker. Her book focuses on a boy living in a Mumbai slum. She said that she was thankful to be given the chance to tell the story, which would have been ignored if she hadn’t written about it.
“If this prize means anything,” Boo said, “it is that small stories in so-called hidden places matter because they implicate and complicate what we consider to be the larger story, which is the story of people who do have political and economic powers.”
The nonfiction category was also filled with a strong field of finalists, including Robert Caro’s latest book on Lyndon Johnson and the late Anthony Shadid’s House of Stone.
David Ferry took home the poetry prize for Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations.
The judges picked the winners after looking at 1,300 books. The winners will receive $10,000.
Elmore Leonard and New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. received honorary prizes.