Authors Jason Mott and Tiya Miles both won National Book Awards, the New York Times reported. For the second year in a row, the ceremony was virtual and hosted by New York Times best-selling author and comedian Phoebe Robinson.
Mott won the National Book Award for fiction for his novel Hell of a Book, which details the journey of a Black author’s book tour "intertwined with one focused on a Black boy in the rural South and a third character, The Kid, who may be imaginary."
“I would like to dedicate this award to all the other mad kids, to all the outsiders, the weirdos, the bullied,” he said in his acceptance speech. “The ones so strange they had no choice but to be misunderstood by the world and by those around them. The ones who, in spite of this, refuse to outgrow their imagination, refuse to abandon their dreams and refuse to deny, diminish their identity, or their truth, or their loves, unlike so many others.”
Noted historian and Harvard University professor Tiya Miles won the nonfiction prize for All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake. The book traces the history of a “family through a cotton sack that an enslaved woman gave to her daughter in the 19th century when they were about to be sold apart.”
In her acceptance speech, she thanked her editor, Molly Turpin, recalling how she shared with her that she wanted to write a book about “an old bag,” and she was delighted. “Your face lit up,” she said. “You were so curious. You were so receptive. You were the perfect editor for this project.”
Established in 1950, the National Book Award is one of the most prestigious awards in the literary world. In selecting the finalist for this year's ceremony, judges read more than 1,800 submitted books.