National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches

Virginia Euwer Wolff, Winner of the 2001 YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE AWARD
for True Believer

Thank you, first of all, Marilyn Marlow, my literary agent, who has always been there, always. Brenda Bowen, my editor, who makes me write better than I can write -- is this happening? Brenda Bowen, who makes me write better than I can write, and Athenaeum and Simon & Schuster. Thank you so much for welcoming this book. The National Book Foundation for what you do for literacy, for people here and everywhere and how you have, in some small way, changed my life tonight.

Thank you to the judges for your generous, generous decision. To my son, Anthony Wolfe, and to my daughter, Juliette Wolfe, thank you for your encouragement. To my brother, Eugene Euwer, who grows pears in Oregon, for his unstinting support.

Like most authors, I have wondered since September 11th what I would ever write again, if I would ever write anything, and if so, would it matter? Usually, the answer has been no, for two months, the answer has been no. You understand, don't you? Of course.

Today my son, Anthony, and I went to the World Trade Center site and we walked around. What I saw was living proof of Faulkner's six. Faulkner said in 1949 in the Nobel speech that if we are not writing about these six things we are not doing our job. They are love, honor, pity, pride, compassion and sacrifice. I think of them as Faulkner's six. I used to have them on my wall until I memorized them and now they're no this wall in here.

And I saw them today at Ground Zero, the work that is going on and the awe and the humility and the hush and the consideration. Love, honor, pity, pride, compassion and sacrifice. That's what you and I and all of us are supposed to be writing about; Faulkner said it and he was right. Thank you.