New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Journalism’s James McBride Wins the National Book Award for Fiction

November 21, 2013

James McBride, Distinguished Writer in Residence at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, was awarded the National Book Award for Fiction for his Civil War-era novel, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead).

McBride, who has been part of the Carter Journalism Institute faculty since 2005, was surprised at his selection—he did not prepare a speech in advance of the announcement at the National Book Awards ceremony, held Wednesday evening at Cipriani Wall Street.

The other finalists in the fiction category were: Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers; Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland; Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge; and George Saunders, Tenth of December.

McBride’s previous works include: The Color of Water and Miracle at St. Anna, which Spike Lee turned into a film of the same title, as well as Song Yet Sung, also set in the Civil War era.

In a cover page review of The Good Lord Bird for the New York Times Book Review, Baz Dreisinger wrote that aspects of the book “signaled a new way of talking – indeed joking -- about race in America today.”

She added:

“It is officially O.K. to be boldly irreverent about not just the sacrosanct but also the catastrophic. Does this mark the triumph of irony, to the point where it has dulled our emotional response to history? Or does it denote progress: we’ve come so far from historical horrors that we freely jest about them? Either way, it’s a risky endeavor; maladroit jokes about slavery aren’t just bad, they’re hazardous. It’s a great relief, then, that McBride – with the same flair for historical mining, musicality of voice and outsize characterization that made his memoir The Color of Water an instant classic – pulls off this portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page.”

At the Carter Journalism Institute, McBride teaches a writing course called “Point of View.”

This Article is in the following Topics:
NYUToday-feature, Arts and Science, Faculty

Type: Article

Press Contact: James Devitt | (212) 998-6808

Journalism’s James McBride wins the National Book Award for Fiction

James McBride, above, Distinguished Writer in Residence at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, was awarded the National Book Award for Fiction for his Civil War-era novel, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead). ©Chia Messina

Search News

NYU In the News

NYU Offers Financial Aid to Undocumented Students

The Wall Street Journal reported that NYU will begin offering scholarship aid to undocumented students for the school year beginning next September.

NYU Adopts Lean LaunchPad Program to Teach Entrepreneurship

Startup guru Steve Blank, in a Huffington Post blog, described how NYU adopted the Lean LaunchPad model to teach entrepreneurship to students and faculty at NYU.

Biology Professor Jane Carlton Examines Wastewater for the City’s Microbiome

The New York Times’ Science Times column “Well” profiled Biology Professor Jane Carlton and her research project to sequence microbiome of New York City by examining wastewater samples.

Steinhardt Professors Use a Play as Therapy

The New York Times wrote about a play written by Steinhardt Music Professor Robert Landy about the relationship between Adjunct Professor Cecilia Dintino, a clinical psychologist in the Drama Therapy Program, and a patient, former Broadway actress Jill Powell.

NYU Public Health Experts Urge Strengthening Local Health Systems to Combat Ebola

Dean Cheryl Healton of the Global Institute of Public Health and Public Health Professor Christopher Dickey wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post saying international health agencies need to strengthen their presence in countries at the local level to prevent future ebola outbreaks.

NYU Footer