I. Last night I had the honor of presenting the Ambassador Book Award for American Studies to Rebecca Skloot, for her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
. Skloot was sunable to attend, but it was a fun and interesting evening. Alan Brinkley won the nonfiction award for The Publisher,
his biography of Henry Luce; Christian Wiman picked up the poetry prize for Every Riven Thing;
Janet Malcolm received a lifetime achievement award; and—arriving at the last possible minute!—Deborah Eisenberg collected the Amby (we don't actually call them that) for fiction, for her Collected Stories
. Tony Judt's widow, Jennifer Homans, gave an incredibly moving speech in accepting the posthumous award (for a "book of special distinction") given to The Memory Chalet
English-Speaking Union 2011 Ambassador Book Award winners with committee members:
(l to r) Adam Kirsch, Ambassador Book Awards Committee Chair; Jennifer Homans accepting on behalf of Tony Judt, for The Memory Chalet(The Penguin Press); Molly Stern of Crown Publishing accepting on behalf of Rebecca Skloot for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Crown); Alan Brinkley for The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century (Alfred A. Knopf); Deborah Eisenberg for Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg (Picador); Committee member Benjamin Taylor; Lifetime Achievement Award winner Janet Malcolm; Committee members Ed Park and Maureen Howard.
II. Afterward I skedaddled downtown to KGB, where I managed to slip into a very crowded room—what a turnout! Thanks to Karolina and Max for running this baby, and to (F.S.) Rebecca Taylor, Justin Taylor (no relation), and Rozalia Jovanovic for reading. Sadly I missed most of Rebecca's reading, but the end was tantalizing: footage from one of the no-budget horror flicks that she starred in (as recounted in her Believer
piece, "Virginia Mountain Scream Queen"). (Anyone shoot video of RT?) Justin read a wonderful little memoir about (among other things) once being Tao Lin's roommate. And Rozi read her music issue
feature on the band Salem, to a smoke machine and a series of enigmatic/spooky/funny slides. So great to see so many people having fun.
Labels: Deborah Eisenberg, Diary of Parkus Grammaticus, Janet Malcolm, Justin Taylor, Rebecca Skloot, Rebecca Taylor, Rozalia Jovanovic, The Believer, Tony Judt