Colson Whitehead, Rep. John Lewis win National Book Awards

2016 National Book Award winners
The 2016 National Book Award winners
Book covers courtesy of publishers

Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad" has won the National Book Award for fiction.

The awards were presented Wednesday night during a dinner ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan, with Larry Wilmore serving as host.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who collaborated on a trilogy of graphic novels titled "March" about his civil rights activism, was among the winners of the young people's literature prize.

Other winners included Daniel Borzutzky's "The Performance of Becoming Human" for poetry and Ibram X Kendi's "Stamped from the Beginning" for nonfiction.

Each of the honorees received $10,000.

2016 National Book Award winners

Fiction: "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

Oprah loved it. Obama loved it. The National Book Award judges loved it. Arguably the biggest book of the fall, "The Underground Railroad" applies a dose of magical realism to one of the darkest moments of American history. Whitehead reimagines the Underground Railroad as an actual train, cutting through the earth, running from southern plantations to points north. He follows one particular runaway, Cora, as she travels the route in search of freedom.

Nonfiction: "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America" by Ibram X. Kendi

"It's a book on the history of racist ideas in America. It's one of these perspective-shifting books," Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada said on our Big Summer Book Show. "It's quite long, but it's worth every page."

Poetry: "The Performance of Becoming Human" by Daniel Borzutzky

From The Brooklyn Arts Press:

"In 'The Performance of Becoming Human,' the bay of Valparaiso merges into the western shore of Lake Michigan, where [Daniel] Borzutzky continues his poetic investigation into the political and economic violence shared by Chicago and Chile, two places integral to his personal formation."

Young people's literature: "March: Book Three" by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

This kinetically illustrated graphic novel tells the story of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and his historic role in the civil rights movement. Lewis himself collaborated on the book, part of a trilogy, to share his personal story, from his childhood in rural Alabama to the lunch counter sit-ins.

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