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Alexie, Johnson win top U.S. prizes

The American National Book Awards were bestowed in New York City last night. The big winners were Denis Johnson’s Vietnam epic Tree of Smoke for fiction; Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian for young people’s lit; Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA for non-fiction; and Robert Hass’s Time and Materials for poetry. (For those keeping track of Canadian distributors, that would be Douglas & McIntyre, H.B. Fenn, Random House, and HarperCollins, respectively.)

Q&Q contributor Sarah Weinman was on the scene, and on her own blog she has a thorough roundup of coverage. As for her own impressions:

Like this year and last, I had a good time at the Book Awards. Why? Because even though the dress-up quotient was high and the speeches were long, I always feel a palpable love of literature in the room, even if it’s not necessarily correlated to the nominated books.

Weinman and several other litbloggers were also live-blogging from the event. Her one-line-at-a-time on-the-spot impressions can be found here. (Sample: “[Presenter Michael] Cunningham: nervous and a blowhard.”)