Presenter of the National Book Awards

2011 National Book Awards Judges Bios


Jerome Charyn is the award-winning author of nearly fifty published works, including novels, memoirs, plays, and graphic novels. He has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture. His most recent book, Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, was published in 2011.

John Crowley is an author of fantasy, science fiction, mainstream fiction, and screenplays. He has received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, as well as the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement for his novel, Little, Big. His most recent novel is Four Freedoms, published in 2009.

Victor LaValle is the author of a short-story collection, Slapboxing with Jesus (1999), and two novels, The Ecstatic (2002) and Big Machine (2009). He is the recipient of the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Whiting Writer’s Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors.

Yiyun Li’s debut collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, O Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Her most recent book, Follow Me, was published in 2010.

Deirdre McNamer is the author of the novels Rima in the Weeds (1991), One Sweet Quarrel (1994), My Russian (1999), and Red Rover (2007), which was named a Best Book of 2007 by Artforum, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.  Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Doubletake, and elsewhere.


Yunte Huang is the author of Transpacific Imaginations: History, Literature, Counterpoetics (2008), CRIBS (2005), Transpacific Displacement: Ethnography, Translation, and Intertextual Travel in Twentieth-Century American Literature (2002), and Shi: A Radical Reading of Chinese Poetry (1997). His most recent book, Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History, was published in 2010.

Alice Kaplan is the author of Reproductions of Banality: Fascism, Literature, and French Intellectual Life (1986); French Lessons: A Memoir (1993); and The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach (2000), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent book, The Interpreter, was published in 2005.

Jill Lepore’s books include The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (1998), winner of the Bancroft Prize; Encounters in the New World: A History in Documents (1999); A Is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States (2002); New York Burning: Liberty and Slavery in an Eighteenth-Century City (2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Blindspot, a novel written jointly with Jane Kamensky (2008). Lepore is also a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Barbara Savage is the author of Broadcasting Freedom: Radio, War, and the Politics of Race, 1938-1948 (1999),  which won the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Award, and co-editor of Women and Religion in the African Diaspora (2006). Her most recent book is Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion, published in 2008.


Elizabeth Alexander’s most recent book is Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010. She is the author of five previous books of poetry, including American Sublime, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and two books of essays, including The Black Interior. Her awards and honors include the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement in Poetry award, the Jackson Poetry Prize of Poets & Writers, Inc., and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among others.

Thomas Sayers Ellis is a poet and photographer whose works have appeared in numerous publications, including The Best American Poetry, Tin House, and The Nation. He is the author of The Maverick Room (2005), which won the John C. Zacharis First Book Award, and, most recently, Skin Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (2010).

Amy Gerstler is a poet, fiction writer, and journalist whose poetry collection Bitter Angel won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent work, Dearest Creature (2009), was named a notable book of the year by The New York Times.

Kathleen Graber is the author of two poetry collections, Correspondence (2006) and The Eternal City (2010), which was a finalist for a National Book Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, The Kenyon Review, and other publications.

Roberto Tejada is a poet, art historian, and curator who founded and co-edits the journal Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks Gift & Verdict (1999) and Amulet Anatomy (2001), as well as the full-length collections Mirrors for Gold (2006) and Exposition Park (2010).

Young People’s Literature

Marc Aronson is an author, historian, and publisher who created Edge, an imprint that brings international voices to young adult readers in the United States. His essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. His most recent book is Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science, published in 2010.

Ann Brashares is the author of the international best-selling Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. She has also written two books of fiction for adults, including My Name Is Memory (2010), which has been optioned for film. Her most recent work, Sisterhood Everlasting, a follow-up on the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, is forthcoming in the summer of 2011.

Matt de la Peña’s debut novel, Ball Don’t Lie (2005), was made into a major motion picture. His third novel, We Were Here, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. His most recent work and first picture book, A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, was published in 2011.

Nikki Grimes is a New York Times best-selling author, winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. Her most recent work, Almost Zero, part of the acclaimed Dyamonde Daniel Book series, was published in 2010.

Will Weaver is the author of numerous books for young adults, including Defect, winner of the 2008 Minnesota Book Award, and the Motornovel Series, which includes Saturday Night Dirt (2008), Super Stock Rookie (2009), and, most recently, Checkered Flag Cheater (2010). He is currently at work on The Survivors, the long-awaited sequel to his book Memory Boy.