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National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches
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Barry Lopez
Winner of the 1986 NONFICTION AWARD for Arctic Dreams

There is a word in Japanese, if I pronounce it correctly which is kotodama. It means the soul living within the word. And if, again, I understand the principle in Japanese, no distinction is made here between fiction and nonfiction. The same is true among the Eskimo I've been with. (They don't make so much a distinction between fiction and nonfiction but between the authentic and the inauthentic.) They ask of a story whether it helps. Does a story give hope? Does a story edify? Does a story make it possible for people facing the worst things in their lives to conquer those things and go on, by themselves and as a society?


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