“Tree of Smoke,” a sweeping novel by Denis Johnson about the Vietnam War that features intersecting stories of an array of American and Vietnamese soldiers and intelligence officers, won the National Book Award for fiction last night.
In the nonfiction category, Tim Weiner, a reporter at The New York Times, took the prize for “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the C.I.A.” (Doubleday).
Mr. Weiner, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on national security programs, examined more than 50,000 documents and interviewed hundreds of C.I.A. veterans for his book, a critical history of C.I.A. failures.
Accepting the award, Mr. Weiner said his work was “a testament to the power of the record revealed and maybe to the fact that our democracy, in spite of everything, is still open enough to see a glimpse of what we have wrought abroad.”
The awards were presented at a black-tie dinner at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan. Fran Lebowitz, the writer and humorist, was the host of the ceremony, and drew laughs when she saluted a roster of previous “nonwinners,” including J. D. Salinger, Saul Bellow, Faulkner and Toni Morrison, who was sitting in the audience.