The novel — one of the Miami Herald’s best books of 2016 and about two Native American families linked by a tragic accident — is not about contemporary politics. But Erdrich used her acceptance speech to underscore creativity’s importance in the time of “alternative news.”
“The truth is being assaulted, not only in our country, but all over the world,” she told the crowd of writers and critics at the Manhattan’s New School Thursday night, according to the Associated Press. “We have to go after the truth. … Let us be fierce and dangerous about the truth.”
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Other winners include Matthew Desmond for “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City”; Ruth Franklin for “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life” and Hope Jahren, “Lab Girl.”
Margaret Atwood won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and Yaa Gyasi won best debut novel for “Homegoing.” She will appear March 31 at the Fort Lauderdale Barnes & Noble for Lit Live!, part of the 2017 Literary Feast sponsored by the Broward County Public Library Foundation.
The full list of winners:
Fiction: Louise Erdrich, LaRose (Harper)
Autobiography: Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (Alfred A. Knopf)
Biography: Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright)
Nonfiction: Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown)
Poetry: Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Criticism: Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury)
The John Leonard Prize: Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf)
The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: Michelle Dean
The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: Margaret Atwood