National Book Award 2011--Young People's Literature
At the National Book Awards Presentation on November 16, hosted by John Lithgow, the award for Young People's Literature went to Thanhha Lai for Inside Out and Back Again (HarperCollins, 2011). The author begins her story with a strange revelation:
No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.
Being a stranger in a strange land is always hard, but when, as part of the "boat people," Ha and her family flee Saigon at the end of the Viet Nam War, she finds herself an alien in an alien world, seen by the small town families and her classmates as the "enemy." It takes only a few months to move a world away, but much longer to find herself a new person and the strange world around her a home.
Taking the award for adult fiction was Jesmyn Ward for her novel Salvage the Bones. Stephen Greenblatt was the winner of the adult nonfiction prize for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, and Nicky Finney was the 2011 poetry award winner for her Head Off & Split.