Sigrid Nunez’s National Book Award Speech

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“I became a writer not because I was seeking community but rather because I thought it would be something I could do alone and hidden in the privacy of my own room,” says Sigrid Nunez in her acceptance speech for the 2018 National Book Award in fiction, which she won for her seventh novel, The Friend (Riverhead Books, 2018). “How lucky to have discovered that writing books made the miraculous possible: to be removed from the world and to be a part of the world at the same time.”

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V. S. Naipaul’s Nobel Prize Speech

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In this video, V. S. Naipaul accepts the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature and reads his speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm. Described by the Swedish Academy as “a literary circumnavigator,” the prolific author published more than a dozen novels and several nonfiction books. Naipaul died at the age of eighty-five on August 11, 2018.

Ursula K. Le Guin

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“We will need writers who can remember freedom.” In this video, Ursula K. Le Guin accepts the National Book Foundation’s 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Le Guin’s essay collection, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), is featured in Page One in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

George Saunders’s Booker Prize Speech

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“This tonight is culture, it’s international culture, it’s compassionate culture, it’s activist culture—it’s a room full of believers…” In this video, George Saunders accepts the 2017 Man Booker Prize for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (Bloomsbury, 2017). Saunders is the second American in a row to win the award.

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Toni Morrison

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In this video, MacDowell Colony chairman Michael Chabon presents Toni Morrison with the Edward MacDowell Medal for outstanding contribution to the arts and American culture. Morrison, who received a lifetime achievement award from the PEN American Center, tells a packed audience about how she became a writer and the inspiration for her first novel, The Bluest Eye.

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Zadie Smith at the Moth Ball

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“Often my subjects are the simplest things in the world: joy, family, the weather, houses, streets—nothing fancy. And when I sit down with these subjects, my aim is clarity...” In her acceptance speech for the 2014 Moth Award, Zadie Smith shares her perspective on storytelling and how it has changed over the years. Smith’s fifth novel, Swing Time (Penguin Press, 2016), is featured in Page One in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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