NEW YORK – James McBride's latest honor for the novel “Deacon King Kong” is a real New York story.
McBride's fictional snapshot of a Brooklyn neighborhood in late 1969 has won the inaugural Gotham Book Prize, given for outstanding writing about New York City. This year, McBride has also won the Anisfield-Wolf fiction award, given to a book that addresses racism and diversity, and a Carnegie Medal for fiction, presented by the American Library Association.
McBride will receive $50,000 for the Gotham prize, for which judges ranged from filmmaker Ric Burns to former New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. McBride is also known for his million-selling memoir “The Color of Water” and the historical novel “Good Lord Bird," winner of the National Book Award.
“It’s a thrill to be honored in your own hometown. It’s like having your very own parade,” McBride said in a statement Tuesday.
“This award landed in my lap nearly the same day as my late mother’s 100th birthday (April 1). She was the subject of my first book, ‘The Color of Water.’ She loved New York. Despite the hardship of raising 12 kids here, she always felt that there was no better place in the world. She would be prouder of this than anything I’ve done, just because it bears the stamp of our ragged, proud metropolis. If it were wrapped with yesterday’s fish, in yesterday’s Daily News, she’d still love it."
N.K. Jemison's science bestseller “The City We Became” and Raven Leilani's debut novel “Luster” were runners-up.
The Gotham prize was conceived last year by businessman-philanthropist Bradley Tusk and political strategist Howard Wolfson, who are funding the award themselves and have committed to it for at least 10 years.