Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, 2010

Tom Wolfe

The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, will award its 2010 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Tom Wolfe in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a journalist, author, and one of the founders of the "New Journalism" literary movement.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Wolfe received a B.A. from Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University and worked as a newspaper reporter for ten years. It was during this time that he published his first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965), a collection of essays about the flamboyant Sixties.

The book became a bestseller and established Wolfe as a leader in experimental literary nonfiction.

In 1968 he published two nonfiction books on the same day: The Pump House Gang and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. His other nonfiction works are Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970); Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine (1977); and The Right Stuff (1983), which won the National Book Award for General Nonfiction (Hardcover) and was adapted into a feature film.

Wolfe is also the author of three novels: The Bonfire of the Vanities (1997); A Man in Full (1998), which was a Finalist for the National Book Award in 1998; and I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004). In 2001 he published Hooking Up, a collection of reportage and fiction. Wolfe lives with his wife, Sheila, his daughter, Alexandra, and his son, Tommy, in New York City.

Tom Wolfe is the twentieth recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Previous recipients include Joan Didion, Maxine Hong Kingston, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, John Updike, and Gore Vidal.

Tom Wolfe photo © Nancy Crampton, 1980.

Tina Brown

Tina Brown is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Daily Beast. She is the author of the 2007 New York Times best seller “The Diana Chronicles.” She has written for numerous publications including The Times of London, The Spectator, and the Washington Post.

Ms. Brown graduated with an M.A. from Oxford at St Anne's College and authored two plays: Under the Bamboo Tree, performed at the Edinburgh Festival and Happy Yellow at the London fringe Bush Theater. Her journalism career began in 1973 writing for the London Sunday Times, The New Statesman and The Sunday Telegraph. Her writings from this era are collected in 2 books, Life As A Party and Loose Talk.

Tina’s revitalization of publications began at the Tatler - she became editor-in-chief in 1979; circulation rose dramatically and soon purchased by Condé Nast in 1982. She became editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair at the end of 1983. With Tina at the helm from 1984-1992, they won 4 National Magazine Awards; she was named Advertising Age’s first Magazine Editor of the Year.

In 1992, Tina took on revitalizing The New Yorker. In her 6 ½ year tenure, circulation increased 28%; in 1992, Tina was the first magazine editor to be honored with the National Press Foundation's Editor of the Year Award. In 1998, she co-founded Talk Media with Harvey and Bob Weinstein of Miramax, launched Talk magazine and Talk Miramax Books.

From April 2003 - May 2005 Tina hosted CNBC’s Topic A with Tina Brown. Tina is married to Sir Harold Evans, former editor of the Sunday Times of London, President of Random House. They have two children, George and Isabel, and reside in New York.

Every fall, in conjunction with the conferring of The National Book Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature, the Board of Directors of the Foundation also presents a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which comes with $10,000. The recipient is a person who has enriched our literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work.