On the evening of November 17, the National Book Awards were announced in New York, and singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith, often called the "Godmother of Punk," took the nonfiction prize for her memoir, Just Kids, about her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe.
"There is nothing more beautiful in our material world than the book," she said, in her emotional acceptance speech, with an oblique reference to e-books. "Please never abandon the book."
Since 1950, the National Book Award, one of the most prestigious literary awards, along with the Pulitzer Prize and the Booker Prize, honors America's best literature.
Winners in the other three categories are:
- Fiction: Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule (McPherson & Co.)
- Poetry: Terrance Hayes, Lighthead (Penguin Books)
- Young People's Literature: Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird (Philomel Books/Penguin)
Author Tom Wolfe ( The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) received the Distinguished Contributions to American Letters award, presented by Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast and soon-to-be the editor of Newsweek, after the publications merge.
Sesame Street's Joan Ganz Cooney, of the Children's Television Workshop, was presented with the award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community by the Muppet Elmo.
In 2010, there were 1,115 books submitted by publishers for the NBA with five finalists in each category. Winners receive a $10,000 prize.