Masha Gessen's The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia (Riverhead) was awarded the nonfiction prize. She opened her remarks by saying, "I never thought that a Russia book could ever be longlisted or shortlisted for the National Book Award, but of course, things have changed." Nonfiction panel chair Paula J. Giddings noted that the finalists in her category had in common a national or transnational scope and all "spoke to the tyranny of the state."
Frank Bidart for Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 (Farrar, Straus) won the poetry prize. He said: "I'm almost twice as old as any of the finalists. Writing the poems is how I survived." He added, "I hope these journeys these poems go on will help others to survive as well."
Robin Benway's Far from the Tree (Harper Teen) took the Young People's Literature prize. She said, about writing for young readers, "they are the toughest audience because they need to hear the truth more than anything, especially in days like today."
Host Cynthia Nixon opened the night by alluding to the political moment: "To remain on the defensive in nearly every waking hour takes it toll." In what would be a theme of the night, she emphasized that books are "among the most powerful weapons we have in an increasingly hostile world."
Lifetime achievement awards were also presented earlier in the evening. President Bill Clinton was greeted with a standing ovation when he took the stage to present the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the Literary community to Scholastic president and ceo Richard Robinson. "I'm grateful to Dick for personal reasons," joked Clinton. "He sent Hillary and me copies of the Harry Potter books the night they came out so we didn't have to wait in line." He said of Robinson's career, "You don't have to be in elected office to do public good. Private citizens can. And in a time of great division, they must."
Robinson highlighted the importance of widespread literacy. "We have a huge stake in establishing a level playing field where everyone reads and understands," he said. He concluded by inviting the audience to join him in "tonight's message and battle cry: reading for all."
Anne Hathaway presented the Medal for the Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Annie Proulx, reading an excerpt from "Brokeback Mountain." When Proulx took the stage, she took on politics directly, calling our era "Kafka-esque" and "a garbage-laden tsunami of raw data." She said, "For some, this is a heady time of brilliant technological innovation that is bringing us into an exciting new world. For others, it is the opening of a savagely difficult book without a happy ending." She added, "But we keep on trying. Because there's nothing else to do."
Separately, as announced at the ceremony and reported by the NYT, the National Book Foundation has received a grant from the Art for Justice Fund, part of a $22 million commitment to furthering criminal justice reform. The NBF will use their grant money to launch a "Literature for Justice" initiative. The next round of Art for Justice grants will be announced in the spring of 2018.
Putnam executive vice president, associate publisher and editor-in-chief Neil Nyren will retire at the end of the year after more than 33 years with the imprint. Putnam, Dutton, and Berkley President Ivan Held noted Nyren has been "a beloved presence in the mystery and thriller communities" and the most recent winner of theMystery Writers of America's Ellery Queen Award. (Nyren's plans include projects with MWA as well as "other initiatives within the crime fiction community.") Held continued: "In addition to losing his presence as a lifelong representative of Red Sox Nation, we will miss his encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture, art, and film. And of course his amazing ability to read (and fix) a 600-page manuscript overnight. Neil's publishing adventures are enough to fill—yes—a book, though he has not threatened that yet. Please join us in wishing him a great retirement."
Jen Ung has been promoted to editor for Simon Pulse.
At Amazon Publishing, Kristin King and Sarah Shaw have both been promoted to author relations manager.
At P.S. Literary Agency, vp, senior agent Carly Watters will take on the position of director, literary branding, while Amanda Schiffmann will add responsibilities as brand development coordinator in addition to her current role as digital and social media coordinator. In addition, Maria Vicente and Eric Smith have both been promoted to agent.
In promotions at Penguin Random House Audio: Jennifer Rubins is now associate director, creative marketing; Taraneh Djangi moves up to senior manager, creative marketing; Victoria Tomao has been promoted to associate director, marketing strategy; Robert Guzman is senior manager, marketing strategy; Dennis Tyrrell advances to associate director, digital products; and Nicole Morano is now publicity manager.
At Scholastic Education, Victoria Burwell has joined as senior vice president, strategic marketing; previously she was senior vice president, chief marketing officer at McGraw-Hill Education. Carol Chanter, has joined as senior vice president, professional learning services; she was most recently with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Achieve3000. Finally, Janelle Cherrington has been promoted to senior vice president, publisher.
In the UK, Amanda Ridout has resigned as ceo of Head of Zeus and will leave the company at the end of November. Chairman Anthony Cheetham will serve as ceo as well.
Author Anne Tyler has signed with Gersh for film and television representation Her next novel, Clock Dance, will be published by Knopf in Fall 2018. Jesseca Salky at Hannigan Salky Getzler remains Tyler's literary agent
At Algonquin Books, Debra Linn has been promoted to director of digital marketing, while both Amy Gash and Kathy Pories move up to executive editor. In addition, Jodie Cohen has joined as marketing director for Algonquin Young Readers, based in New York. Cohen spent the past decade at Penguin Random House, where she created and executed both retail and institutional marketing programs for the Listening Library juvenile audio program.
At Bonnier Publishing UK, Ben Dunn has been promoted to managing director of Kings Road Publishing, and Helen Edwards switches to run children's publishing for Kings Road, reporting to Dunn. Helen Wicks moves over to business development and group licensing director, and Natalie Jerome is promoted to acquisitions director and publisher for the group, both reporting to ceo Perminder Mann.
Nina Nocciolino will join Cave Henricks Communications as publicity director on December 4. She has been senior media & communications manager at Harvard Business Review Press.
Jim Maly joins Edwards Brothers Malloy as digital operations manager, reporting to ceo John Edward, at the end of November.
Mystery Writers of America announced that Jane Langton, William Link, and Peter Lovesey have been chosen as Grand Masters for 2018. In addition, The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas and book blogger Kristopher Zgorski are the recipients of the Raven Award, while French publisher and translator Robert Pépin will receive the Ellery Queen Award.