Minnesotans Erdrich, Alexander take home National Book Awardsby Marianne Combs, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Two Minnesota authors have won National Book Awards this year.
William Alexander won in the category of Young People's Literature for his debut novel "Goblin Secrets" — it follows the story of Rownie, a boy who joins a theatrical troupe of goblins in order to find his missing brother.
At the awards ceremony in New York City, Alexander quoted fellow fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin in highlighting the importance of stories for shaping kids' imaginations and making the world a larger place than the one they live in.
"We have to remember that," Alexander said.
Longtime poet and author Louise Erdrich, 58, is bringing home the National Book Award for fiction for her book "The Round House." Erdrich was also a finalist in 2001 for her book The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse." This is the first time that she's won the award.
At the ceremony in New York Wednesday night, she said she was accepting the award "in recognition of the grace and endurance of native women."
She said she's thrilled to have won the award, and hopes it raises awareness of the long tradition of Native American artistry as well as social issues that still plague reservations. Eridrich is part Ojibwe.
"The book addresses a deep disparity in the way justice is sought and the success in finding justice on reservations," she told MPR Thursday. "So on that level, I'm very happy about this book gaining more attention because more attention should be brought to this."
The Round House involves a young boy's search for answers after his mother is raped.
Erdrich is flying home Thursday to Minneapolis where she owns Birch Bark Books, an independent bookstore.
"I'm carrying this huge heavy award home in my bag that threatens to snap at any minute but I'm going to put it in Birch Bark Books because it belongs to everybody," Erdrich said.
Erdrich's other books include "Love Medicine," "Master Butcher's Singing Club" and "The Plague of Doves."
Finalists in fiction, which in recent years favored lesser-known writers, included such established names as Dave Eggers and Junot Diaz. Publishers have been concerned that the National Book Awards have become too insular and are considering changes, including expanding the pool of judges beyond writers.
Other winners include Katherine Boo for nonfiction and David Ferry for poetry. Winners, chosen by panels of their peers, each will receive $10,000. Judges looked through nearly 1,300 books.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)