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US National Book Award winners announced

15th November 2012

Long-time writers and debut authors were honoured in this year's US National Book Awards, with Louise Erdrich winning the fiction prize for The Round House.

The awards, established in 1950, are designed to increase the public's awareness of 'exceptional' books written by Americans, and recognise achievements in four genres – Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature.

The Round House – the second novel in a planned trilogy – is centred around a teenage boy’s effort to investigate a racial attack on his mother on a North Dakota reservation.

Erdrich accepted her award in English and in her Native American language, saying she wanted to acknowledge the 'grace and endurance of native women'.

The works of two other writers also focused on young people, with Katherine Boo's debut Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, her account of people living in a Mumbai slum, picking up the non-fiction award. William Alexander’s fantasy Goblin Secrets won the prize for young people’s literature.

David Ferry, 88, won the award for poetry for Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations, telling the awards' audience in New York he thought there was a chance of winning because he 'was so much older' than the other nominees.

Each winner receives USD 10,000 (GBP 6,300) and were chosen from a list of 1,300 books.

Honorary prizes were also given to novelist Elmore Leonard and Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr, the chairman of the New York Times.

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