Scene @ National Book Awards Ceremony

By Neal Comment


Sherman Alexie (right) is congratulated by James Howe and Scott Westerfield, two of the judges on the National Book Awards Young People’s Literature committee. Earlier, when I asked Alexie how it felt that, after years of writing adult fiction, he’d come to the big show as a YA author, he pointed out that he’d been writing about teenagers for years, and said he loved dealing more directly with younger readers. “And every book store I’ve been to on this tour, two or three big-name YA authors have come to the reading. That never happened on my adult book tours.” He revealed that he has completed a second book for younger readers and, as he told Howe and Westerfield, is in the genre to stay.

(During her acceptance speech, Young People’s jury chair Elizabeth Partridge had cited Westerfield for his ability to explain the difference between “elfpunk” and “urban fantasy” to his fellow judges—so what, I asked, was that difference, exactly? “Elfpunk is pretty much full of elves and fairies and traditional sh–,” he laughed. “Holly Black is classic elfpunk—there’s enough creatures already, and she’s using them. Urban fantasy, though, can have some totally made-up f—ed-up creatures.”)


Stanley Plumly, a finalist in the poetry category, congratulates winner Robert Hass after the ceremony.


Jill Bialosky of Norton and Gillian Blake of Bloomsbury, making their way out of the post-awards reception.


Fiction nominee Jim Shepard relaxes after the ceremony with his wife, author Karen Shepard, and literary agent Peter Matson.