From The Christian Science Monitor:
In the fiction category, the award went to Irish author Colum McCann for “Let the Great World Spin,” his novel focusing on the lives of various New Yorkers on the day in 1974 when French trapeze artist Phillip Petit walked a tight rope between the World Trade Center towers. McCann dedicated his award to recently deceased “Angela’s Ashes” author Frank McCourt saying, “I think he’s dancing upstairs.”
The nonfiction winner was T.J. Stiles for “The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt,” who reminded the audience as he accepted the award that “the book lies at the heart of all of our culture.” The award for poetry went to Brown University professor Keith Waldrop for his book of recent verse, “Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy.” For Waldrop, the award was a long time coming – he was previously nominated for a National Book Award 40 years ago, but did not win at that time. Even last night Waldrop took the casual approach. His wife – Rosemarie Waldrop, with whom he co-edits Burning Deck Press – accompanied him from Providence to New York but did not attend the award ceremony, opting instead for the new Philip Glass opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. “I almost went to the opera myself,” Waldrop confessed. In the category of children’s books the award went to Phillip Hoose for “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice,” a biography of “the first Rosa Parks,” a Montgomery, Ala., teenager who refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus nine months before Rosa Parks became famous for the same act. Colvin – who had been almost forgotten by history before Hoose’s book revived awareness of her story – appeared on stage with Hoose as he claimed the award, waving and smiling to the crowd.
Earlier in the evening, Joanne Woodward had been on hand to present a the 2009 medal for distinguished contribution to Gore Vidal.