The 1989 National Book Award for fiction went to John Casey on Wednesday for “Spartina,” and Thomas L. Friedman won the nonfiction award for “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” his account of the battle-scarred Middle East.
Also Wednesday night, the second annual National Book Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was presented to Daniel J. Boorstin, librarian of Congress emeritus.
The $10,000 prize is awarded for lifelong contributions to American letters that have had an extraordinary and permanent impact on American literature.
Casey was born in Worcester, Mass., in 1949 and educated at Harvard College and Law School and the University of Iowa. He is a professor at the University of Virginia, teaching English literature and creative writing. He also wrote “Testimony and Demeanor” and “An American Romance.”
“Spartina” is a study of the ties that bind Dick Pierce--a fisherman, father and lover--to his wife, his mistress, his sons, his community and his boat.
“From Beirut to Jerusalem” is an account by Friedman, a New York Times reporter, of the Middle East conflict as seen from the two eponymous cities.
Friedman was born in Minneapolis in 1953 and educated at Brandeis and Oxford universities. Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from the Middle East for the newspaper, he is now its chief diplomatic correspondent.
The National Book Awards were established in 1950 to recognize American literary works of exceptional merit. Previous recipients include William Faulkner, John Cheever, Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, Tom Wolfe and Alice Walker.