LOS ANGELES, April 24, 2009 On the eve of the nation's largest public literary festival, the Los Angeles Times (latimes.com) tonight honored the year's most accomplished authors with its 29th Annual Book Prizes (www.latimesbookprizes.com) ceremony at The Times' Chandler Auditorium. Book Editor David L. Ulin served as master of ceremonies for the private event that honored author Robert Alter with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement and recognized the writers of 2008's best books in nine categories.
As the Kirsch Award citation notes of Robert Alter, "His work is enriched and enlivened by his unique gifts -- a poet's ear for inner rhythms and meanings, a translator's mastery of many tongues, and a scholar's insight into the origins and uses of texts that come down to us from great distances in time and space. Above all, his books serve as keys to the most cherished writings of Western civilization and, at the same time, masterpieces in their own right."
Established in 1980, the Book Prizes span genres from history to mystery to poetry and science. Presenters included Chris Abani, A. Scott Berg, Ron Carlson, Robert Crais, Dana Goodyear, Jonathan Kirsch, Doyle McManus, Patt Morrison, Jim Newton and Susan Straight. Each winner, including Alter, received a $1,000 cash award.
2008 Book Prizes Winners:
- Biography: Paula J. Giddings, Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching (Amistad/HarperCollins)
- Current Interest: Barton Gellman, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency (The Penguin Press)
- Fiction: Marilynne Robinson, Home (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: Zoë Ferraris, Finding Nouf (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- History: Mark Mazower, Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (The Penguin Press)
- Mystery/Thriller: Michael Koryta, Envy the Night (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur)
- Poetry: Frank Bidart, Watching the Spring Festival: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Science and Technology: Leonard Susskind, The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics (Little, Brown and Co.)
- Young Adult Fiction: Terry Pratchett, Nation (HarperCollins)
- Robert Kirsch Award: Robert Alter
A complete list of 2008 finalists and past winners is available at www.latimesbookprizes.com.
For more information on the ceremony please call 1-800-LATIMES, x72366.
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