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Book news: big prizes for Doty, Matthiessen, Kleinzahler, D'Ambrosio

November 19, 2008 | 11:52 pm

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The National Book Awards were announced last night at a black-tie dinner at Cipriani's in New York with more than 700 in attendance. Mark Doty, an occasional contributor to the L.A. Times book review pages and a former judge for the L.A. Times Book Prizes, received the poetry award for his collection, "Fire to Fire" (he's pictured above at a 2007 not-black-tie conference). Peter Matthiessen took the award for fiction for "Shadow Country" despite the occasional grumbling that it was less one new book than a combination and revision of three old books. Nonfiction went to surprise winner Annette Gordon-Reed for "The Hemingses of Monticello," and Judy Blundell won the children's literature award for "What I Saw and Why I Lied." Each winner will receive $10,000.

With less fanfare (they sent out a press release), the Lannan Foundation has announced its 2008 literary awards and fellowships. But who needs downtown dinner when they're getting a $150,000 literary award? That big prize goes to poet August Kleinzahler. Four authors will receive $100,000, two-year fellowships: poets Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Ford, novelist Glenn Patterson and short-story writer Charles D'Ambrosio. Three book awards of $75,000 each are going to "Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia" by John Gray, "Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith" by Philip Kitcher and "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism" by Sheldon S. Wolin. Additionally, the Lannan Foundation announced its upcoming residency fellows -- authors go to Marfa, Texas to write; the list includes translator Zaia Alexander, who splits her time between Los Angeles and Berlin, and L.A.-based author Rubén Martinez.

In absolutely unrelated news, author Chuck Klosterman's review of the 15-years-in-the-making Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy" was posted on the Onion yesterday and has generated 667 comments so far. Go on, click; you know you're curious.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Carolyn Kellogg

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