NEW YORK (AP) — “Between the World and Me,” Ta-Nehisi Coates’ brief, unflinching meditation on race and police violence, won the National Book Award for nonfiction on Wednesday night. The fiction prize was given to Adam Johnson’s “Fortune Smiles,” an eclectic and edgy story collection set everywhere from the former East Germany to a Louisiana community reeling from Hurricane Katrina.
Coates’ book has been on best-seller lists for months, and his acceptance speech was a stirring expression of gratitude and frustration. He dedicated his honor to his friend Prince Jones, who was killed by police 15 years ago and whose tragedy is at the core of “Between the World and Me.”
“‘Between the World and Me’ comes out of that place,” said Coates, adding that similar shootings keep happening “over and over and over again.”
The young people’s literature prize went to Neal Shusterman’s “Challenger Deep,” inspired by his then-teenage son’s struggles with mental illness, while Robin Coste Lewis’ debut collection, “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” was the cited for poetry.
All winners received $10,000.
Earlier during the ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street, Don DeLillo received a lifetime achievement medal for his contributions to American letters. James Patterson was honored for his advocacy of reading and literacy.
Johnson’s award follows the Pulitzer Prize he received for his previous work, “The Orphan Master’s Son.” Both were edited by David Ebershoff, a longtime Random House executive who is leaving for a full-time writing career. Moviegoers may know him for the upcoming adaptation of his novel “The Danish Girl.”