Peter Mathiessen wins National Book Award
Eighty-one-year-old author and environmental activist Peter Mathiessen has won the National Book Award for fiction for Shadow Country, a one-volume revision of a trilogy of novels that caused a little blogosphere controversy when it was first shortlisted. The argument was whether three novels revised as one could be considered a new book, but the judges stood firm, particularly given that Shadow Country is also 400 pages shorter than the combined novels and does contain new writing. Mathiessen, one of the founders of the Paris Review and a practising Zen monk, is also known for his non-fiction and travel writing. Shadow Country is an 890 page reworking of his own trilogy on the historical figure Edgar J. Watson.
The other winners, announced at a ceremony in New York last night, were Annette Gordon-Reed in nonfiction, for The Hemingses of Monticello; Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire in poetry; and Judy Blundell in young people’s literature, for What I Saw and How I Lied.