NEW YORK — The National Book Award for fiction went to Jesmyn Ward for “Salvage the Bones” (Bloomsbury USA), a novel about a black community in Mississippi devastated by Hurricane Katrina, during a ceremony held Wednesday at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.
Julie Otsuka, author of “When the Emperor Was Divine,” was a finalist for “The Buddha in the Attic” (Alfred A. Knopf), a novel about Japanese picture brides, along with Andrew Krivak for “The Sojourn” (Bellevue Literary Press), Tea Obreht for “The Tiger’s Wife” (Random House), and Edith Pearlman for “Binocular Vision” (Lookout Books).
The fiction judges were Deirdre McNamer (panel chair), Jerome Charyn, John Crowley, Victor LaValle, and Yiyun Li.
The nonfiction winner was Stephen Greenblatt for “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” (W.W. Norton & Company) and the poetry winner was Nikky Finney for “Head Off & Split” (TriQuarterly).
Thanha Lai won the young people’s literature award for “Inside Out & Back Again” (Harper), the story of a girl forced to flee Vietnam with her family and resettle in America. Lai, who now lives in New York, was born in Vietnam and moved to Alabama in 1975.
The Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was presented by poet Ann Lauterbach to poet John Ashbery, and the Literarian Award for Outstanding Contribution to the American Literary Community was presented by writer Walter Moseley to Mitchell Kaplan, co-founder of the Miami Book Fair International.
Actor, writer and musician John Lithgow hosted the National Book Foundation’s 62nd annual benefit dinner and ceremony.