At a ceremony in New York City last night, the National Book Foundation announced the winners of the 2006 National Book Awards.
Nathaniel Mackey won the award in poetry for Splay Anthem (New Directions, 2006). Mackey’s eight poetry collections include Whatsaid Serif (City Lights Books, 1998), Song of the Andoumboulou, 18-20 (Moving Parts Press, 1994), and Eroding Witness (University of Illinois Press, 1985). He was the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award in 1993, and in 2001 he was elected to the board of chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.
Richard Powers won the award in fiction for The Echo Maker (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006). Powers is the author of nine novels, including The Time of Our Singing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), Galatea 2.2 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995), and The Gold Bug Variations (William Morrow, 1991). He was a finalist for the 1993 National Book Award in fiction for his novel Operation Wandering Soul (William Morrow, 1993). Powers, an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, has also received a MacArthur Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Award.
Each winner received $10,000, and each finalist received $1,000. The annual awards honor books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by U.S. writers published between December 1 and November 30. The judges in poetry were Jimmy Santiago Baca, Li-Young Lee, James Longenbach, Claudia Rankine, and C. D. Wright. The judges in fiction were Jonathan Lethem, Bharati Mukherjee, Craig Nova, David Plante, and Marianne Wiggins.
The National Book Foundation also presented two lifetime achievement awards at last night’s ceremony. Poet Adrienne Rich received the 2006 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in recognition of her “incomparable influence and achievement” and Robert Silvers and the late Barbara Epstein received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community for cofounding the New York Review of Books. Silvers, who continues to edit the NYRB, accepted the award on behalf of Epstein, who died of lung cancer in June.