The National Book Foundation (NBF), sponsors of the National Book Awards, announced yesterday their plans to celebrate Tom Wolfe at this year's awards ceremony. The innovative journalist and novelist who also holds a doctorate in American studies from Yale University will receive the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters alongside the 2010 National Book Award winners.
Wolfe, responsible for coining popular phrases such as "good ol' boy," "the right stuff," and "the Me Decade," is the author of culturally-keen nonfiction works including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, and three novels, I Am Charlotte Simmons, A Man in Full, and The Bonfire of the Vanities. According to NBF executive director Harold Augenbraum, Wolfe's work, along with that of the NBF's 2010 Literarian Award recipient, Sesame Street cocreator Joan Ganz Cooney, "led to enormous changes in our view of the world and took established media in new directions."
The author, who joins a list of past recipients that includes Joan Didion, Maxine Hong Kingston, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, and John Updike, will receive the award on November 17.
In the short video below, Wolfe (sans white suit, circa 1970) talks about the expression of language in his native American South with media maven Marshall McLuhan.