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Nat’l Book Awards Go to Jason Mott for Fiction, Tiya Miles for Nonfiction, Martín Espada for Poetry

HeadlineNov 18, 2021

The winners of the 2021 National Book Awards have been announced. North Carolina writer Jason Mott won the fiction prize for his novel titled “Hell of a Book.” Mott’s story was inspired by police killings of African Americans in recent years.

Harvard University historian Tiya Miles won the 2021 nonfiction prize for “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake.” It’s the story of a family torn apart by slavery in the mid-19th century.

Martín Espada won an award for his book of poetry, “Floaters,” which honors asylum seekers who’ve drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande into Texas. Espada read a passage on Democracy Now! in January 2020.

Martín Espada: “Like a beer bottle thrown into the river by a boy too drunk to cry,
like the shard of a Styrofoam cup drained of coffee brown as the river,
like the plank of a fishing boat broken in half by the river, the dead float.
And the dead have a name: floaters, say the men of the Border Patrol,
keeping watch all night by the river, hearts pumping coffee as they say
the word floaters, soft as a bubble, hard as a shoe as it nudges the body,
to see if it breathes, to see if it moans, to see if it sits up and speaks.”

Click here to hear the full poem and watch our interview with Martín Espada.

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