These authors and books have won the annual U.S. National Book Awards, first awarded to four 1935 publications in May 1936. There are four award categories with no change since 1996 and the four winners are selected from hundreds of nominees—ranging in number from 148 in the Poetry category to 435 in the Nonfiction category, during the 2010 cycle for example. During the 2013 cycle, longlists of ten nominees in each of four categories were announced September 16 to 19. Lists of five finalists were announced October 16 and the awards were announced and presented at a benefit dinner on November 20 in New York City.
Contrary to historical fact, the National Book Foundation currently recognizes only a history of purely literary awards that begins in 1950. The pre-war awards and the 1980 to 1983 graphics awards are covered here following the main list that is organized by award category and year.
General fiction for adult readers is a National Book Award category that has been continuous since 1950, with multiple awards for a few years beginning 1980. From 1935 to 1941, there were six annual awards for novels or general fiction and the "Bookseller Discovery", the "Most Original Book"; both awards were sometimes given to a novel.
Dozens of new categories were introduced in 1980, including "General fiction", hardcover and paperback, which are both listed here.[i] The comprehensive "Fiction" genre and hard-or-soft format were both restored three years later.
General nonfiction for adult readers is a National Book Award category continuous only from 1984, when the general award was restored after two decades of awards in several nonfiction categories. From 1935 to 1941 there were six annual awards for general nonfiction, two for biography, and the Bookseller Discovery or Most Original Book was sometimes nonfiction.
The first National Book Awards were presented in May 1936 at the annual convention of the American Booksellers Association to four 1935 books selected by its members. Subsequently the awards were announced mid-February to March 1 and presented at the convention. For 1937 books there were ballots from 319 stores, about three times so many as for 1935. There had been 600 ABA members in 1936.
The "Most Distinguished" Nonfiction, Biography, and Novel (for 1935 and 1936) were reduced to two and termed "Favorite" Nonfiction and Fiction beginning 1937. Master of ceremonies Clifton Fadiman declined to consider the Pulitzer Prizes (not yet announced in February 1938) as potential ratifications. "Unlike the Pulitzer Prize committee, the booksellers merely vote for their favorite books. They do not say it is the best book or the one that will elevate the standard of manhood or womanhood. Twenty years from now we can decide which are the masterpieces. This year we can only decide which books we enjoyed reading the most."
The Bookseller Discovery officially recognized "outstanding merit which failed to receive adequate sales and recognition" (quoted by NYT) Finall that award stood alone for 1941 and the New York Times frankly called it "a sort of consolation prize that the booksellers hope will draw attention to his work".
Authors and publishers outside the United States were eligible and there were several winners by non-U.S. authors (at least Lofts, Curie, de Saint-Exupéry, Du Maurier, and Llewellyn). The Bookseller Discovery and the general awards for fiction and non-fiction were conferred six times in seven years, the Most Original Book five times, and the biography award in the first two years only.
The "Academy Awards model" (Oscars) was introduced in 1980 under the name TABA, The American Book Awards. The program expanded from seven literary awards to 28 literary and 6 graphics awards. After 1983, with 19 literary and 8 graphics awards, the Awards practically went out of business, to be restored in 1984 with a program of three literary awards.
Since 1988 the Awards have been under the care of the National Book Foundation which does not recognize the graphics awards.
Herbert Mitgang's report on the inaugural TABA begins thus: "Thirty-four hardcover and paperback books, many of which nobody had heard of before, were named winners during a generally ragged presentation of the first American Book Awards in a ceremony at the Seventh Regiment Armory last night. The event was designed to resemble Hollywood's Oscars, but instead there was little glamour. All the winners were barred from accepting their awards, and most did not attend."
At least three books have won two National Book Awards. Dates are award years.
John Clive, Thomas Babington Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian
At least three authors have won three awards: Saul Bellow with three Fiction awards; Peter Matthiessen with two awards for The Snow Leopard (above) and the 2008 Fiction award for Shadow Country; Lewis Thomas with two awards for The Lives of a Cell (above) and the 1981 Science paperback award for The Medusa and the Snail.
These three authors and numerous others have written two award-winning books.
Dates are award years.
"Children's" and "Young People's" categories
Lloyd Alexander, 1971, 1982
Katherine Paterson, 1977, 1979
Saul Bellow (3), 1954, 1965, 1971
John Cheever, 1958, 1981
William Faulkner, 1951, 1955
William Gaddis, 1976, 1994
Bernard Malamud, 1959, 1967
Wright Morris, 1957, 1981
Philip Roth, 1960, 1995
John Updike, 1964, 1982
"Fiction" and another category
Peter Mathiessen, 2008 and The Snow Leopard, two nonfiction categories 1979 and 1980
Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1974 and A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing up in Warsaw, Children's Literature 1970
"Nonfiction" and nonfiction subcategories
Justin Kaplan, 1961, 1981 (Arts and Letters, Biography/Autobiography)
George F. Kennan, 1957, 1968 (Nonfiction, History and Biography)
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1936, 1939 (Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction)
David McCullough, 1978, 1982 (History, Autobiography/Biography)
Arthur Schlesinger, 1966, 1979 (History and Biography, Biography and Autobiography)
Frances Steegmuller, 1971, 1981 (Arts and Letters, Translation)
Lewis Thomas, 1975, 1981 (Arts and Letters and Science, Science)
A. R. Ammons, 1973, 1993
Alan Dugan, 1962, 2001
Philip Levine, 1980, 1991
James Merrill, 1967, 1979
Theodore Roethke, 1959, 1965
Wallace Stevens, 1951, 1955
The Translation award was split six times during its 1967 to 1983 history, once split three ways. Twelve other awards were split, all during that period.
1973 Fiction, History
1974 Fiction, Poetry, Biography, Translation (3)
1975 Fiction, Arts & Letters, The Sciences
1983 Poetry, Children's Fiction paper, Children's Picture hard
Four of the ten awards were split in 1974, including the three-way split in Translation. That year the Awards practically went out of business. In 1975 there was no sponsor. A temporary administrator, the Committee on Awards Policy, "begged" judges not to split awards, yet three of ten awards were split. William Cole explained this in a New York Times column pessimistically entitled "The Last of the National Book Awards" but the Awards were "saved" by the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1976.
Split awards returned with a 1980 reorganization on Academy Awards lines (under the ambiguous name "American Book Awards" for a few years). From 1980 to 1983 there were not only split awards but more than twenty award categories annually; there were graphics awards (or "non-literary awards") and dual awards for hardcover and paperback books, both unique to the period.
In 1983 the awards again went out of business, and they were not saved for 1983 publications (January to October). The 1984 reorganization prohibited split awards as it trimmed the award categories from 27 to three.
^ abSplit award. In 1973 there were 12 winning books in 10 award categories.
^ abcdeSplit award. In 1974 there were 14 winning books in 10 award categories.
^ abcSplit award. In 1975 there were 12 winners in 10 award categories, although the Committee on Awards Policy, temporary administrator, "begged" judges not to split awards.
^Split award. In 1972 there were 11 winners in 10 award categories.
^ abcSplit award. In 1983 there were 22 winners in 19 award categories.
^Split award. In 1967 there were 7 winners in 6 award categories. This was the first split National Book Award. It was also the inaugural award in a new category, Translation, with the standard $1000 cash prize donated by the National Translation Center. Judging by next-day coverage in The New York Times, only the five established award categories were covered by the January 31 announcement of nominees (finalists) and the March 4 announcement of winners (four days before the presentation). Henry Raymont, who would also cover the presentation, was evidently unaware of the new award, or of the increase in number to six categories. But the newspaper had announced it February 8 ("$1,000 National Book Prize Is Set Up for a Translation") and Lewis Nichols mentioned it again when Raymont did not ("IN AND OUT Of BOOKS: Translators").
^Split award. In 1971 there were 8 winners in 7 award categories.
^Split award. In 1980 there were 29 winners in 28 literary award categories.
^Split award. In 1981 there were 17 winners in 16 literary award categories.
^Split award. In 1982 there were 19 winners in 18 literary award categories.
^ abcdeIrving, Cheever, Maxwell, and Welty won the 1980 to 1983 awards for general paperback fiction. None were paperback originals. Indeed, all four had been losing finalists for the Fiction award in their hardcover editions (two 1979, two 1981).
^ abLewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell, won both the Arts and Letters and the Sciences awards in 1975.
^ abJohn Clive, Thomas Babington Macaulay, won both the History and Biography awards in 1974.
^ abPeter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard, won the Contemporary Thought award in 1979 and the General Nonfiction, Paperback award in 1980.
^ abBirdy by William Wharton, designed by Fred Marcellino, published by Alfred A. Knopf, won both the First Novel and Jacket Design awards in 1980, presumably received by Wharton and Marcellino respectively.
^ ab"Books and Authors", The New York Times, 1936-04-12, page BR12.
^ ab"Lewis is Scornful of Radio Culture: Nothing Ever Will Replace the Old-Fashioned Book ...", The New York Times, 1936-05-12, page 25.
^ abc"5 Honors Awarded on the Year's Books: Authors of Preferred Volumes Hailed at Luncheon of Booksellers Group", The New York Times, 1937-02-26, page 23.
^ abcBallots were submitted from 319 stores; there had been about 600 members one year earlier. "Booksellers Give Prize to 'Citadel': Cronin's Work About Doctors Their Favorite--'Mme. Curie' Gets Non-Fiction Award TWO OTHERS WIN HONORS Fadiman Is 'Not Interested' in What Pulitzer Committee Thinks of Selections". The New York Times. March 2, 1938. p. 14.
^ ab"Book About Plants Receives Award: Dr. Fairchild's 'Garden' Work Cited by Booksellers", The New York Times, 1939-02-15, page 20.
^"1939 Book Awards Given by Critics: Elgin Groseclose's 'Ararat' is Picked as Work Which Failed to Get Due Recognition", The New York Times, 1940-02-14, page 25.
^"Books and Authors", The New York Times, 1941-02-16, page BR12.
^ ab"Neglected Author Gets High Honor: 1941 Book Award Presented to George Perry for 'Hold Autumn in Your Hand'", The New York Times, 1942-02-11, page 18.
^Who Walk Alone. Amazon.com product information with image of a Bookseller Discovery edition (37th printing). Retrieved 2012-01-30.