2011 National Book Award Winners

Cover Art: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn WardThe National Book Awards were handed out on Wednesday night in New York City. As you might recall, the announcement of the NBA finalists received more attention than usual this year (though not the kind the organization would have wanted). Amid the customary, and probably justified, grousing about the nominees’ obscurity and the snubbing of well-received works by better-known (and better-selling) writers, was the mistaken nomination, and forced withdrawal, of Lauren Myracle’s Shine.

All of that controversy stirred up the perennial debate about the literary establishment's disregard for popular tastes, and the wisdom of slinging around awards and their attendant prestige based upon what are at best subjective standards. The hand-wringers beat out the head-clutchers by a nose and the rest of the world yawned.

Anyway, here are your winners.

Jesmyn Ward / Salvage the BonesCover Art: The Swerve by Stephen GreenblattCover Art: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.

Stephen Greenblatt / The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

Nikky Finney / Head Off & Split

Young Adult Literature:
Thanhha Lai / Inside Out and Back Again