Though it didn’t quite happen at exactly 10 AM EST as the National Book Foundation‘s website promised (10:12 by my clock, admittedly on the fast side) the people who bring you the National Book Awards (the nominees of which will be announced in Philadelphia on October 10 and co-hosted by Camille Paglia) have announced their lifetime achievement winners. Joan Didion will receive the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham will present. Terry Gross is being honored with the Literarian Award For Outstanding Service to the Literary Community. Ira Glass, host and producer of National Public Radio’s THIS AMERICAN LIFE, will present.
In making the announcements, Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the Foundation, said, “These two women are icons in the literary world and their contributions are now legendary – Joan Didion as one of the keenest observers and finest prose stylists of our time and Terry Gross as one of the most intelligent voices on the airwaves and one of the few who devotes hundreds of hours a year to talking about books and literature. Both women are fearless in their questioning and their insights on the page and on the air have informed our understanding of America and of America’s writers for decades. Our Board of Directors is honored that they will accept these awards and grace our gala with their presence.”