On November 20th, The National Book Awards gave prizes to a first-time author in her 40s and a long-time poet in her 80s, proving that writers with determination and talent can be recognized and rewarded at any age.
The award for Fiction went to a jubilant Julia Glass, 46, for her book Three Junes. In her acceptance speech, she revealed that in her 40s she wrote her first novel and had her second child. "This is dedicated to all those who bloom late in life, as a writer or anything else, because...you never know," said Glass.
Steve Martin hosted the annual ceremonies -- for the fourth year in a row -- at The Marriott Marquis in New York City. He told the estimated 800 people in attendance that he doesn't have much time to read anymore. "The testosterone injections make me spend all my time trying to seduce the refrigerator. So I started to listen to books on tape in the car, but I spent most of my time on the phone with my broker which, when you think about it, is the perfect name for him."
An 87-year-old, Ruth Stone, won the Poetry award for In the Next Galaxy, and delighted the crowd with her direct honesty. "I think you gave it to me because I'm old," she said. "I'd like to thank the editors...whose names I can't remember right now."
Philip Roth received The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In his speech he described his "unwavering passion for the word," while praising American freedom and language. Mr. Roth won his first National Book Award more than four decades ago (1959) for his first novel, Goodbye Columbus.
Young People's Literature: Nancy Farmer for The House of the Scorpion.
Non-Fiction: Robert Caro for Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson.