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American Book Award

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Title: American Book Award  
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American Book Award

The American Book Award is an American literary award that annually recognizes a set of books and people for "outstanding literary achievement". According to the 2010 awards press release, it is "a writers' award given by other writers" and "there are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers."[1]

The Award is administered by the Before Columbus Foundation, which established it in 1978 and inaugurated it in 1980, recognizing a list of eight 1979 publications. Almost every Award recognizes a particular work by an American author without restriction to race, sex, ethnic background, or genre. In 2000 there were two Lifetime Achievement awards, one Editor award, and one Journalism award. There have been several subsequent awards for lifetime achievement and a few to editors.[2]

Current rendition

The 34th annual American Book Awards were announced September 19, 2013, and they will be presented November 23 at the Miami Book Fair International on the Miami Dade College campus.[3]

  • Will Alexander, Singing In Magnetic Hoofbeat: Essays, Prose, Texts, Interviews, and a Lecture, Essay Press
  • Philip P. Choy, San Francisco Chinatown: A Guide To Its History & Architecture, City Lights
  • Amanda Coplin, The Orchardist, Harper Collins
  • Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was An Aztec, Copper Canyon Press
  • Louise Erdrich, The Round House, Harper Collins
  • Alan Gilbert, Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence, University of Chicago
  • Judy Grahn, A Simple Revolution: The Making of an Activist Poet, Aunt Lute Books
  • Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave: A Memoir, W.W. Norton & Co.
  • Demetria Martinez, The Block Captain's Daughter, University of Oklahoma Press
  • Daniel Abdal-­Hayy Moore, Blood Songs, The Ecstatic Exchange
  • D. G. Nanouk Okpik, Corpse Whale, University of Arizona Press
  • Seth Rosenfeld, Subversives: The FBI’s War On Student Radical and Reagan's Rise to Power, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
  • Christopher B. Teuton, Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liar's Club, University of North Carolina
  • Lew Welch, Ring of Bone: Collected Poems, City Lights

Lifetime Achievement: Ivan Argüelles

Lifetime Achievement: Greil Marcus

Lifetime Achievement: Floyd Salas

Other ABA

For seven years 1980 to 1986, there were two distinct sets of American Book Awards. The other is now officially one stage of the National Book Awards (NBA) history.

The National Book Foundation is responsible for the National Book Awards (U.S.) from 1989 and officially recognizes a continuous NBA history from 1949/1950. Part of that history is those so-called American Book Awards that formally replaced the National Book Awards after their 1979/1980 cycle, were revamped for 1984, and were renamed "National" in 1987.[4]

The American Book Award is also unrelated to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), although that organization maintains a complete list of award winners that is readily available.[2] Since the 1970s that trade group is also unrelated to the National Book Awards, which it established in 1936 and jointly re-established them as book industry awards in 1950.


1980 to 1989


1990 to 1999


  • Asake Bomani, Belvie Rooks for Paris Connections: African American Artists in Paris
  • Christopher Mogil, Peter Woodrow for We Gave Away a Fortune
  • Cornel West for Prophetic Thought in Postmodern Times
  • Denise Giardina for Unquiet Earth
  • Diane Glancy for Claiming Breath
  • Eugene B. Redmond for The Eye in the Ceiling
  • Francisco X. Alarcón for Snake Poems
  • Gerald Graff for Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education
  • Jack Beatty for The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley
  • Leroy V. Quintana for The History of Home
  • Katherine Peter for Neets'aii Gwiindaii: Living in the Chandalar Country
  • Nelson George for Elevating the Game: Black Men and Basketball
  • Ninotchka Rosca for Twice Blessed, a novel
  • Abraham Rodriguez for Spidertown, a novel
  • Herb Boyd, Robert L. Allen for Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America—An Anthology
  • Denise Chavez for Face of an Angel
  • John Egerton for Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South
  • John Ross for Rebellion from the Roots: Indian Uprising in Chiapas
  • Thomas Avena for Life Sentences: Writers, Artists, and AIDS
  • Linda Raymond for Rocking the Babies, a novel
  • Li-Young Lee for The Winged Seed: A Remembrance
  • Marianna De Marco Torgovnick for Crossing Ocean Parkway
  • Marnie Mueller for Green Fires: Assault on Eden: A Novel of the Ecuadorian Rainforest
  • Peter Quinn for Banished Children of Eve, A Novel of Civil War New York
  • Sandra Martz for I Am Becoming the Woman I've Wanted
  • Gordon Henry Jr. for The Light People
  • Tricia Rose for Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America
  • Alurista for Et Tu ... Raza
  • Derrick Bell for Gospel Choirs: Psalms Of Survival In An Alien Land Called Home
  • Dorothy Barresi for The Post-Rapture Diner
  • Guillermo Gomez-Pena for The New World Border: Prophecies, Poems, and Loqueras for the End of the Century
  • Louis Owens for Nightland
  • Martin Espada for Imagine the Angels of Bread: Poems
  • Montserrat Fontes for Dreams of the Centaur, a novel
  • Noel Ignatiev for Race Traitor
  • Shirley Geok-lin Lim for Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian-American Memoir of Homelands
  • Sunaina Maira for Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America
  • Thulani Davis for Maker of Saints
  • Tom De Haven for Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies, a novel
  • William M. Banks for Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life
  • Brenda Knight for Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution
  • Alice McDermott for Charming Billy
  • Anna Linzer for Ghost Dancing
  • Brian Ward for Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations
  • Chiori Santiago for Home to Medicine Mountain
  • E. Donald Two-Rivers for Survivor's Medicine: Short Stories
  • Edwidge Danticat for The Farming of Bones
  • Judith Roche, Meg McHutchison for First Fish, First People: Salmon Tales of the North Pacific Rim
  • Gioia Timpanelli for Sometimes the Soul: Two Novellas of Sicily
  • Gloria Naylor for The Men of Brewster Place, a novel
  • James D. Houston for The Last Paradise
  • Jerry Lipka, Gerald V. Mohatt, Ciulistet Group for Transforming the Culture of Schools: Yup¡k Eskimo Examples
  • Trey Ellis for Right Here, Right Now
  • Josip Novakovich for Salvation and Other Disasters
  • Lauro Flores for The Floating Borderlands: Twenty-Five Years of U.S. Hispanic Literature
  • Luís Alberto Urrea for Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life
  • Nelson George for Hip Hop America: Hip Hop and the Molding of Black Generation X
  • Speer Morgan for The Freshour Cylinders
  • Gary Gach for What Book!?: Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop

Children' s Book Award: Chiori Santiago, author, and Judith Lowry, illustrator, Home to Medicine Mountain[2]

2000 to 2009

  • Allan J. Ryan for The Trickster Shift: Humour and Irony in Contemporary Native Art
  • Andrés Montoya for The Ice Worker Sings and Other Poems
  • Camille Peri, Kate Moses for Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life Parenthood
  • David A. J. Richards for Italian American: The Racializing of an Ethnic Identity
  • David Toop for Exotica
  • Elva Trevino Hart for Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child
  • Emil Guillermo for Amok: Essays from an Asian American Perspective; With an Introduction by Ishmael Reed
  • Frank Chin for The Chinaman Pacific & Frisco R.R. Co.
  • Helen Thomas for Front Row at the White House : My Life and Times
  • Janisse Ray for Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
  • John Russell Rickford, Russell John Rickford for Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English
  • Leroy TeCube for Year in Nam: A Native American Soldier's Story
  • Lois-Ann Yamanaka for Heads By Harry
  • Michael Lally for It's Not Nostalgia: Poetry & Prose
  • Michael Patrick MacDonald for All Souls: A Family Story from Southie
  • Rahna Reiko Rizzuto for Why She Left Us, a novel
  • Robert Creeley for The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975–2005

Editor/Publisher: Ronald Sukenick[2]

Journalism: Jack E. White[2]

Lifetime Achievement: Frank Chin[2]

Lifetime Achievement: Robert Creeley[2]


Editor/Publisher Award: Malcolm Margolin[2]

Lifetime Achievement: Ted Joans[2]

Lifetime Achievement: Tillie Olsen[2]

Lifetime Achievement: Philip Whalen[2]


Children's Book: Jessel Miller, Angels in the Vineyards

Lifetime Achievement: Lerone Bennett

Lifetime Achievement: Jack Hirschman

  • Kevin Baker, Paradise Alley
  • Debra Magpie Earling, Perma Red
  • Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
  • Rick Heide, ed., Under the Fifth Sun: Latino Literature from California
  • Igor Krupnik,Willis Walunga, Vera Metcalf, and Lars Krutak, eds., Akuzilleput Igaqullghet, Our Words Put to Paper: Sourcebook in St. Lawrence Island Yupik Heritage and History
  • Alejandro Murguía, This War Called Love: Nine Stories
  • Jack Newfield, The Full Rudy: The Man, the Myth, the Mania
  • Joseph Papaleo, Italian Stories
  • Eric Porter, What Is This Thing Called Jazz?: African American Musicians as Artists, Critics, and Activists
  • Jewell Parker Rhodes, Douglass' Women, a novel
  • Rachel Simon, Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey
  • Velma Wallis, Raising Ourselves: A Gwich'in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River

Editor: Max Rodriguez, QBR: The Black Book Review (


Journalism: Bill Berkowitz

  • MacKenzie Bezos, The Testing of Luther Albright, a novel
  • Matt Briggs, Shoot the Buffalo
  • David P. Diaz, The White Tortilla: Reflections of a Second-Generation Mexican-American
  • Darryl Dickson-Carr, The Columbia Guide to Contemporary African American Fiction
  • Thomas Ferraro, Feeling Italian: The Art of Ethnicity in America
  • Tim Z. Hernandez, Skin Tax
  • Josh Kun, Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America
  • P. Lewis, Nate
  • Peter Metcalfe, Gumboot Determination: The Story of the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
  • Kevin J. Mullen, The Toughest Gang in Town: Police Stories from Old San Francisco
  • Doris Seale and Beverly Slapin, eds., A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children
  • Matthew Shenoda, Somewhere Else
  • Carlton T. Spiller, Scalding Heart

Editor: Chris Hamilton-Emery, Salt Publishing Ltd.

Lifetime Achievement: Jay Wright


Lifetime Achievement: J. J. Phillips


Lifetime Achievement: Miguel Algarín

2010 to date

  • Amiri Baraka, Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music
  • Sherwin Bitsui, Flood Song
  • Nancy Carnevale, A New Language, A New World: Italian Immigrants in the United States, 1890–1945
  • Dave Eggers, Zeitoun
  • Sesshu Foster, World Ball Notebook
  • Stephen D. Gutierrez, Live from Fresno y Los
  • Victor Lavalle, The Big Machine
  • François Mandeville, This Is What They Say, translated by Ron Scollon from Chipewyan
  • Bich Minh Nguyen, Short Girls
  • Franklin Rosemont and Robin D. G. Kelley, eds., Black, Brown, & Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora
  • Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey C. Robinson, eds., Poems for the Millennium: Volume Three: The University of California Book of Romantic and Postromantic Poetry
  • Kathryn Waddell Takara, Pacific Raven: Hawai`i Poems
  • Pamela Uschuk, Crazy Love: New Poems

Lifetime Achievement: Katha Politt

Lifetime Achievement: Quincy Troupe

  • Keith Gilyard, John Oliver Killens
  • Akbar Ahmed, Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam
  • Camille Dungy, Suck on the Marrow
  • Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel
  • William W. Cook and James Tatum, African American Writers and Classical Tradition
  • Gerald Vizenor, Shrouds of White Earth
  • Eric Gansworth, Extra Indians
  • Ivan Argüelles, The Death of Stalin
  • Geoffrey Alan Argent, ed., The Complete Plays of Jean Racine: Volume 1: The Fratricides, translated by Argent from French
  • Neela Vaswani, You Have Given Me a Country
  • Sasha Pimentel Chacón, Insides She Swallowed
  • Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores, eds., The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History of Culture in the United States
  • Carmen Giménez Smith, Bring Down the Little Birds

Lifetime Achievement: Luis Valdez

Lifetime Achievement: John A. Williams

  • Annia Ciezadlo, Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
  • Arlene Kim, What Have You Done to Our Ears to Make Us Hear Echoes?
  • Ed Bok Lee, Whorled
  • Adilifu Nama, Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes
  • Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
  • Shann Ray, American Masculine
  • Alice Rearden, translator; Ann Fienup-Riordan, ed., Qaluyaarmiuni Nunamtenek Qanemciput: Our Nelson Island Stories
  • Touré, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now
  • Amy Waldman, The Submission
  • Mary Winegarden, The Translator’s Sister
  • Kevin Young, Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels

Lifetime Achievement: Eugene B. Redmond


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