The National Book Foundation, sponsor of the National Book Awards, recently announced that Maxine Hong Kingston will be honored with the 2008 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Kingston will receive the award, given in recognition of her work as a writer of fiction and nonfiction, at the National Book Awards ceremony on November 19.
Kingston, whose most recent work is The Fifth Book of Peace (Knopf, 2003), is celebrated for her unique approach to memoir and fiction, particularly her method of illuminating the immigrant experience in America. In 1981, Kingston won the National Book Award in general fiction for China Men (Knopf, 1980), her part-memory, part-myth chronicle of three generations of Chinese immigrants in the United States.
Barney Rosset, publisher of Grove Press and the Evergreen Review, will also be honored at the National Book Awards, where he will receive the fourth annual Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Rosset was the first U.S. publisher of many writers of the French avant-garde and the American Beats, including such luminaries as Allen Ginsberg, Jean Genet, Eugène Ionesco, Harold Pinter, and Samuel Beckett.
“This year’s distinguished honorees broke new ground in American literary publishing," said Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the Foundation, in a pre, and political idea. Rosset opened a door to brash concepts about reading in America, letting controversial literary work speak for itself."
On October 15, the National Book Foundation will announce the twenty finalists for the 2008 National Book Award, given to honor works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people's literature published in the past year.