Annal: 2001 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 2001.

Book:The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Andrew Solomon

With uncommon humanity, candor, wit, and erudition, award-winning author Andrew Solomon takes the reader on a journey of incomparable range and resonance into the most pervasive of family secrets. His contribution to our understanding not only of mental illness but also of the human condition is truly stunning.

The Noonday Demon examines depression in personal, cultural, and scientific terms. Drawing on his own struggles with the illness and interviews with fellow sufferers, doctors and scientists, policymakers and politicians, drug designers and philosophers, Solomon reveals the subtle complexities and sheer agony of the disease. He confronts the challenge of defining the illness and describes the vast range of available medications, the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the impact the malady has had on various demographic populations around the world and throughout history. He also explores the thorny patch of moral and ethical…[more]

Book:American Chica

American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood

Marie Arana

From her father’s genteel Peruvian family, Marie Arana was taught to be a proper lady, yet from her mother’s American family she learned to shoot a gun, break a horse, and snap a chicken’s neck for dinner.

Arana shuttled easily between these deeply separate cultures for years. But only when she immigrated with her family to the United States did she come to understand that she was a hybrid American, an individual whose cultural identity was split in half. Coming to terms with this split is at the heart of this graceful, beautifully realized portrait of a child who “was a north-south collision, a New World fusion. An American chica.”

Through Arana’s eyes the reader will discover not only the diverse, earthquake-prone terrain of Peru, charged with ghosts of history and mythology, but also the vast prairie lands of Wyoming, “grave-slab flat,” and hemmed by mountains. …[more]

Book:The Lost Children of Wilder

The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care

Nina Bernstein

In 1973 Marcia Lowry, a young civil liberties attorney, filed a controversial class-action suit that would come to be known as Wilder, which challenged New York City’s operation of its foster-care system. Lowry’s contention was that the system failed the children it was meant to help because it placed them according to creed and convenience, not according to need. The plaintiff was thirteen-year-old Shirley Wilder, an abused runaway whose childhood had been shaped by the system’s inequities. Within a year Shirley would give birth to a son and relinquish him to the same failing system.

Seventeen years later, with Wilder still controversial and still in court, Nina Bernstein tried to find out what had happened to Shirley and her baby. She was told by child-welfare officials that Shirley had disappeared and that her son was one of thousands of anonymous children whose circumstances are concealed by the veil of confidentiality that hides foster care from public…[more]

Book:My Story as Told by Water

My Story as Told by Water

David James Duncan

In this remarkable collection of essays, David James Duncan, award-winning author of The River Why, braids his contemplative, activist, and rhapsodic voices together into a potently distinctive whole, speaking with power and urgency about the vital connections between our water-filled bodies and this water-covered planet. The twenty-two essays in this collection swirl and eddy around the author’s early-forged bond with the rivers of the Pacific Northwest and their endangered native salmon. With a bracing blend of story, logic, science, and humor, Duncan relates mystical, life-changing fishing adventures; draws incisive portraits of the humans and wild creatures who shaped his destiny; attacks the corporate greed and political folly that have brought whole ecosystems to ruin; and meditates on the spiritual and practical necessity of acknowledging our dependence on water in its primal state.

Book:Neighbors

Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland

Jan Tomasz Gross

One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half, 1,600 men, women, and children, all but seven of the town’s Jews. Neighbors tells their story.

This is a shocking, brutal story that has never before been told. It is the most important study of Polish-Jewish relations to be published in decades and should become a classic of Holocaust literature.

Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts and other evidence into an engulfing reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but forgotten by history. His investigation reads like a detective story, and its unfolding yields wider truths about Jewish-Polish relations, the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism. It is a story of surprises: The newly occupying German army did not compel the massacre, and Jedwabne’s Jews and Christians had previously enjoyed…[more]

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