After Jacqueline Woodson accepted the National Book Award in young people's literature for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming last night, host Daniel Handler shared a "joke" about her with the audience: she's allergic to watermelon. Get it? Because she's black. You can feel the tension in the room through your screen.
They say human happiness depends largely on your position (social, economic) relative to those around you, an axiom that would explain why the bunch of struggling New York writers at the National Book Awards on Wall Street seemed so giddy in press reports about the "determined... party." "Our dinner here is larger than it's been in five years... we have an afterparty (with) 300, 400 people coming," the executive director of the foundation behind the gala told GalleyCat (video after the jump). Call it the awards' year of hope, then, particularly with the hopey president-elect getting a shout-out in several speeches and an African American author taking home the nonfiction prize for the first time since 1991. A short (fun!) video and winners after the jump.
♦ Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson says the paper's newsstand sales have risen 20 percent in the last few weeks. [Portfolio]
♦ Fox Business is keeping up its attack on CNBC's Jim Cramer. [NYP]
♦ Comedian D.L. Hughley has signed on to host a show on CNN. [Variety]
♦ Colin Callender, the president of HBO Films, is leaving by the end of the year to start his own entertainment production company. [NYT]
♦ The Atlantic has launched a redesign and a new ad campaign. [AdFreak]
♦ Indian author Aravind Adiga won the 2008 Man Booker Prize for The White Tiger. [Time]
♦ The National Book Award nominees for fiction and non-fiction are in. [NYO, NYO]
"The NBAs are like the Oscars, except the acceptance speeches are longer and no one is attractive," an agent observed as a burbling, mostly elderly crowd gathered for cocktails outside a ballroom at the Marriot Marquis last night. Au contraire! Author-hottie Josh Ferris was looking Hollywood handsome, decked out in a tux adorned with his Finalist medal. He and Jim Shephard, who was also in contention for the fiction prize, stood shoving each other playfully and talking about how thrilled each would be if the other won. "The brutal fact is, I'm not going to win, " Josh said. He was correct: The prize went, as expected, to Denis Johnson for his Vietnam novel 'Tree Of Smoke.' But Josh quite possibly won the prize for "Having and Being the Most Fun at the Pre-Party."
"As a 39-year-old fiction writer, you can imagine how much time I spend fretting about the plight of under 35-year-old fiction writers," 'Homeland' author Sam Lipsyte said in his introduction to last night's '5 Under 35' event, hosted by the National Book Foundation, which will dole out National Book Awards later this week. When the laughter died down, though, Sam backpedaled: "Actually, though, I don't think things are so good for anyone right now—except the few who don't deserve it." Of course, those few were all that any of the assembled crowd of young and young-ish editors wanted to talk about.