Honorary book awards

NEW YORK (AP) -September 10, 2008

Maxine Hong Kingston, the Chinese-American author best known for "The Woman Warrior," a fictionalized memoir that became a model for other immigrant writers and is taught on campuses nationwide, was awarded a medal for "Distinguished Contribution to American Letters."

The prizes were announced Wednesday by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization that presents the National Book Awards.

"This year's distinguished honorees broke new ground in American literary publishing," foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum said in a statement.

"Kingston exposed the great story of American immigration to a new, rich blend of fiction, memory, folk-tale and political idea. Rosset opened a door to brash concepts about reading in America, letting controversial literary work speak for itself."

Rosset, 86, and Kingston, 67, will collect their prizes Nov. 19 at the 59th annual National Book Awards ceremony. Nominees for competitive categories will be announced Oct. 15 in Chicago by novelist Scott Turow.

Rosset is a Chicago native who in the 1950s and '60s endured arrest and financial hardship to win landmark court decisions and publish the full editions of Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" and another erotic text, D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterly's Lover." A leading advocate of avant-garde and political writings, he also released work by Malcolm X, Che Guevara and Jean-Paul Sartre among others.

Kingston, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, was born in Stockton, Calif., and has written often about her early years and her parents' lives. "Woman Warrior," a debut work published in 1976, won a National Book Critics Circle prize. Five years later, she won a National Book Award for the memoir "China Men." She has also written "The Fifth Book of Peace," "Tripmaster Monkey" and "Through the Black Curtain."

Previous winners of honorary National Book Awards include Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer and Philip Roth.
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