Merwin, Vollmann, and Didion Win National Book Awards


The National Book Foundation recently announced the winners of the 2005 National Book Awards.

W.S. Merwin won the award in poetry for Migration: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005). The author of fifteen books of poetry and nearly twenty books of translation, Merwin is no stranger to the National Book Foundation: He has been a National Book Award finalist seven previous times.

William T. Vollmann won the award in fiction for Europe Central (Viking, 2005). Vollmann is the author of more than twelve books of fiction and nonfiction, including the seven-volume history of violence Rising Up and Rising Down (McSweeney’s, 2003), for which he was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2003. He was also the recipient of a 1988 Whiting Writers' Award and a 1997 PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction.

Joan Didion won in nonfiction for The Year of Magical Thinking (Knopf, 2005). She is the author of five novels and seven books of nonfiction, including Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968), Play It As It Lays (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970), and The White Album (Simon & Schuster, 1979).

Each winner received $10,000.

The National Book Foundation also presented two lifetime achievement awards. Norman Mailer received the 2005 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti received the inaugural Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.