The National Book Foundation will honor novelist and playwright Karen Tei Yamashita and former librarian Nancy Pearl with special awards at the National Book Awards ceremony in November.
The foundation announced that Yamashita will receive its Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (DCAL) medal in recognition of her “expansive and innovative genre-defying oeuvre.”
Brazil-Maru, I Hotel, and, most recently, Sansei and Sensibility. David Steinberger, the foundation’s chairman of the board, praised her for work that “reaches across time, country, and culture to offer readers a powerfully complex guide to our world.”amashita is known for her books like
Pearl, a veteran of library systems in Detroit; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Seattle, will receive the foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Pearl is also known for her Book Lustseries of reading guides and her cable TV show, Book Lust With Nancy Pearl.
“The work that librarians do to ensure free and open access to our shared culture is unparalleled, and Nancy Pearl’s lifetime of service is a reinforcement that libraries are of the utmost importance for all,” Steinberger said.
Previous winners of the DCAL medal include Toni Morrison, Stephen King, and Adrienne Rich, while past Literarian winners include Maya Angelou, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and James Patterson.
Yamashita and Pearl will receive their awards at the National Book Awards ceremony on Nov. 17.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.