Scribe Richard Powers won the fiction prize at lit kudofest the National Book Awards in Gotham Wednesday night, stealing the thunder from Judith Regan.
Powers took home kudos for “The Echo Maker,” his novel about love and tragedy set against an auto accident in Nebraska.
New York Times scribe Timothy Egan won non-fiction prize for his dust-bowl history “The Worst Hard Time.”
Maverick publisher–and controversial O.J. interrogator–Regan threatened to shake up the normally staid kudos after receiving an unexpected nom.
But prize went to Powers, who has built a literary career on a wide range of genres and styles, penning crix favorites “Gain,” and “Galatea 2.0.” He thanked part of the book biz that celebrated the “rich strangness of many books instead of the certainties of one.”
Still, it was a landmark moment for Regan, whose L.A.-based imprint of HarperCollins tends to concentrate on commercial, sometimes scandalous, non-fiction tomes, making bestsellers out of Jenna Jameson’s “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star” and Jose Canseco’s “Juiced.”
Earlier in the day publisher faced criticism from book biz and pundits that company was cashing in on O.J. Simpson.
Biggest Hollywood connection came with author Ken Kalfus, who was nommed in fiction category for terrorism-themed novel “A Disorder Peculiar to the Country.” Author’s short story, “Night and Day You Are the One,” was bought earlier this year by Universal, and another work is also basis for upcoming Picturehouse release “Life and Death of Timofey Berezin.”
In other categories, M.T. Anderson won for “Octavian Nothing” in young people’s lit category. Nathaniel Mackey took home poetry prize for “Spley Anthem.”
Kudos were hosted by scribe Fran Leibowitz.