Let the Great World Spin, Irish-born writer Colum McCann’s well-received novel about 1970s New York City, won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday night. Other winners announced at the 60th annual ceremony in New York City included T.J. Stiles’ The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt for nonfiction, Keith Waldrop’s Transcendental Studies for poetry, and Phillip Hoose’s Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice for young people’s literature. (Hoose, a finalist in the same category in 2001, won for his book about the African American civil rights pioneer who refused to give up her seat on a bus years before Rosa Parks.)
There was one more competitive prize announced at the black-tie dinner at Manhattan’s Cipriani Wall Street, a Best of the National Book Awards Award. Based on 10,000 votes from the reading public, one title emerged as the favorite of all the winners in the prize’s 60-year history: Flannery O’Connor’s The Complete Stories, a posthumous collection that won the fiction prize in 1972.
The National Book Foundation, which administers the prizes (worth $10,000 each), also presented honorary medals to Gore Vidal for distinguished contribution to American letters and to author/activist/McSweeney’s founder Dave Eggers (the Literarian Award).