Let’s celebrate the female winners of the National Book Award.
Louise Erdrich won the fiction award for The Round House, her fourteenth novel, about a teenage boy’s effort to investigate an attack on his mother on a North Dakota reservation, and his struggle to come to terms with the violence in their culture. According to the New York Times in her acceptance speech, Louise Erdrich said she wanted to acknowledge “the grace and endurance of native women” and added that The Round House is a book about “a huge case of injustice ongoing on reservations.” I’ve often wondered why none of her novels have been adapted as films or as television series.
Maybe this award can help change that?
Katherine Boo won the non-fiction award for Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity about the struggles of the dwellers of a slum in the shadow of luxury hotels in India. In her acceptance speech she said “If this prize means anything it is that small stories in so-called hidden places matter because they implicate and complicate what we consider to be the larger story, which is the story of people who do have political and economic powers.” She previously won a Pulitzer Prize for her work at the Washington Post.
Women often write strongly about “small stories in so-called hidden places” and it’s good to see this acknowledgment of one of them. If these stories are celebrated as literature, that can influence what reaches the screen, too.