Presenter of the National Book Awards

2003 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

Stephen King

> Read King's Acceptance Speech

> www.stephenking.com

 


NEW YORK, NY (Monday, September 15, 2003) - The Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation today announced that its 2003 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters will be conferred upon Stephen King, one of the nation's most popular, imaginative, and well-loved authors.

Mr. King has published more than 200 short stories (including the O. Henry Award-winning "The Man in the Black Suit") and 40 books during a career spanning three decades. He has earned the reputation among readers and booklovers as a genre-defying stylist, vivid storyteller, and master of suspense.

The Medal will be presented to Mr. King on Wednesday evening, November 19, at the 54th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. Mr. King will deliver a keynote address to an audience of more than 1,000 authors, editors, publishers, friends, and supporters of books and book publishing. The evening benefits the National Book Foundation's many educational outreach programs for readers and writers across the country.

The annual award was created in 1988 by the Foundation's Board of Directors to celebrate an American author who has enriched the literary landscape through a lifetime of service or body of work.

The previous recipients are Jason Epstein, Daniel Boorstin, Saul Bellow, Eudora Welty, James Laughlin, Clifton Fadiman, Gwendolyn Brooks, David McCullough, Toni Morrison, Studs Terkel, John Updike, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Miller, and Philip Roth.

In making the announcement on behalf of the Board of Directors, Neil Baldwin, executive director of the Foundation, said, "Stephen King's writing is securely rooted in the great American tradition that glorifies spirit-of-place and the abiding power of narrative. He crafts stylish, mind-bending page-turners that contain profound moral truths - some beautiful, some harrowing - about our inner lives. This Award commemorates Mr. King's well-earned place of distinction in the wide world of readers and booklovers of all ages."

Mr. King will receive $10,000 along with the Medal.

"This is probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in my career as a writer since the sale of my first book in 1973," Mr. King said. "I'll return the cash award to the National Book Foundation for the support of their many educational and literary outreach programs for children and youth across the country; the Medal I will keep and treasure for the rest of my life."

With the publication in 1974 of Carrie, his first novel, Stephen King quickly established a devout readership and cemented his reputation as America's premier horror-writer. Since then and at a pace matched by few others, Mr. King, 55, has worn many hats and has set a number of sales records along the way. More than 300 million copies of his books are in print, including The Shining (1977), Pet Sematary (1983), and Misery (1987); a memoir, On Writing (2000); a six-part novel, The Green Mile (1996); and a fantasy/Western series, The Dark Tower. The fifth installment of that series, Wolves of the Calla, will be published on November 4.

King with writer John Grisham at the 1993 National Book Awards.
Photo: Sandy Wavrick.

Mr. King's work has been translated into 33 languages, been published in 35 countries, and has been the basis for more than 70 films, television movies, and mini-series - a Guinness world record. Well known for his philanthropy, Mr. King provides scholarships for Maine high school students, in addition to making contributions to local and national charities through The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. He and his wife, novelist Tabitha King, have three children and three grandchildren, and divide their time between Maine and Florida.

In addition to Mr. King's recognition, the November 19th ceremony will also feature the announcement of the four Winners of the 2003 National Book Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. The highly anticipated list of 20 Finalists in these four categories will be announced at a press conference at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 15.

Updated information regarding the National Book Foundation's 2003 Gala Awards Ceremony and Dinner, as well as events in conjunction with National Book Month (October), can be found on this website.