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Denis Johnson Wins the National Book Award That Everyone Expected Him To

Cindy Johnson, accepting her husband's award.Photo: AP

The National Book Awards were last night at the Marriot Marquis and, as pretty much everyone predicted, Denis Johnson took home the prize for fiction for his Vietnam War novel Tree of Smoke. His wasn't the only patriotic book to win, though; also snapping up awards were Tim Weiner's sharply critical Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA for nonfiction, and Robert Hass's Bush-bashing Time and Materials for poetry. Terry Gross and Joan Didion were each given honorary medals, and Sherman Alexie won the prize for "young people's literature" for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a semi-autobiographical tome about his experiences as a Native American in an all-white school. The recently deceased Norman Mailer was honored in a few speeches, and, oh yeah, nonfiction runner-up Christopher Hitchens's silky-smooth balls got felt up. Yep, just another boring National Book Awards ceremony. —Matthew Perpetua

Christopher Hitchens's Waxed Sack: Open for Visitors [Daily Intel]
Earlier: How to Win a National Book Award in Five Easy Steps