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SEPTEMBER 10, 2008

Contact: Camille McDuffie
Goldberg McDuffie Communications



To Be Honored on November 19 at the 2008
National Book Awards Ceremony hosted by Eric Bogosian

Scott Turow to Announce National Book Award Finalists
From Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater on October 15

New York, New York – The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, will bestow its 2008 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters on Maxine Hong Kingston in recognition of her outstanding achievements as a writer of fiction, memoir, and nonfiction. Born to Chinese immigrant parents in California, Kingston has employed a range of literary styles and stories in her work to create a startling new approach to immigrant memoir and fiction and influence two generations of American writers. She was the recipient of a National Book Award in 1981 for China Men. The Medal will be presented at the 59th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Wednesday, November 19. Writer and actor Eric Bogosian will emcee the event.

Also that evening, The National Book Foundation will award Barney Rosset, the legendary publisher, The Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Rosset, through his publishing house, Grove Press, and his magazine, The Evergreen Review, introduced American readers to such literary giants as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Jean Genet, and Eugène Ionesco, as well as many of the writers of the Beat generation. He fought two landmark first amendment battles in order to publish the uncensored version of D.H. Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. Rosset was a tenacious champion for writers who were struggling to be read in America and this award recognizes his vision and his enormous contributions to American publishing.

In making the announcements, Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the Foundation, said, “This year’s distinguished honorees broke new ground in American literary publishing. Kingston exposed the great story of American immigration to a new, rich blend of fiction, memory, folk-tale and political idea. Rosset opened a door to brash concepts about reading in America, letting controversial literary work speak for itself. Our Board of Directors is honored that they will be with us to accept these Medals.”

Maxine Hong Kingston is the nineteenth recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Previous recipients include Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, and John Updike. This year’s ceremony marks the fourth year that the Foundation has presented the Literarian Award, which was established to recognize individuals whose life’s work has enhanced the literary world. Previous winners are Terry Gross, Robert Silvers and Barbara Epstein, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Note: more detailed biographies of Maxine Hong Kingston and Barney Rosset follow at the end of the release.

Scott Turow to Announce Finalists on October 15 in Chicago

The twenty Finalists for the 2008 National Book Award will be announced on October 15. Bestselling author Scott Turow will make the announcement from the stage of the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago and it will be transmitted by videolink (the video will be available at at noon on that day).

The National Book Award will be presented in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. The winner in each category will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City on Wednesday, November 19. This year, the event will take place in a new venue – Cipriani at 55 Wall Street. The Awards, which have been given since 1950, are the country’s foremost symbol of literary excellence, given to writers by writers.

For more information about the Finalists Announcement and the invitation-only Awards dinner, please contact Camille McDuffie at Goldberg McDuffie Communications (212)446-5106.

Maxine Hong Kingston

Maxine Hong Kingston was born to Chinese immigrant parents in Stockton, California in 1940 and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. A long-time member of the Berkeley faculty, she is currently Senior Lecturer for Creative Writing.

Her nonfiction books include The Woman Warrior, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, China Men, which was awarded the National Book Award in 1981, Hawaii One Summer, Through the Black Curtain, To Be the Poet, and The Fifth Book of Peace. She has written one novel, Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book. Kingston is the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and a National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the title of “Living Treasure of Hawaii.”
Maxine Hong Kingston photo © Gail K. Evenari.

Barney Rosset

Barney Rosset was born in 1922 in Chicago and purchased the small Greenwich Village publisher, Grove Press, in 1951. At Grove he published in America for the first time such literary giants as Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Kenzaburo Oe, and many of the Beat writers, such as Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. In two epic legal battles, he fought for and won the rights to publish D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (in 1959) and then Henry Miller’s, Tropic of Cancer (in 1961). He also founded a literary magazine, The Evergreen Review, which inspired many young Americans to embrace the counterculture. The magazine continues to publish online at

Eric Bogosian

Eric Bogosian is a writer, playwright and actor known for his comedic monologues and social commentary. In addition to his numerous one-man shows he has performed throughout New York, he starred on Broadway in his acclaimed drama, “Talk Radio,” which was revived last year with Liev Schreiber. Several of his one-man shows were made into films, including “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll,” He has appeared in several films and is well-known to television fans as Captain Danny Ross in Law and Order: Criminal Intent. He is also the author of two novels, Mall and Wasted Beauty. More information is available at
Eric Bogosian photo © Susan Johann.

Scott Turow

Scott Turow is a writer and attorney. He is the author of seven best-selling novels: Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof , Pleading Guilty, The Laws of Our Fathers, Personal Injuries, Reversible Errors and Ordinary Heroes. A novella, Limitations, was published as a paperback original in 2006 following its serialization in The New York Times Magazine. His works of non-fiction include One L (1977) about his experience as a law student, and Ultimate Punishment (2003), a reflection on the death penalty. He frequently contributes essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Playboy and The Atlantic. He lives in Chicago, where he is a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. More information is available at
Scott Turow photo © Greg Martin.


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