The National Book Foundation, which awards the National Book Award announced that Karen Tei Yamashita will be the recipient of its National Book Award for literary achievement. Through the award’s 34-year history, Yamashita is only the second Asian American author to receive it after Maxine Hong Kingston. Yamashita was a finalist for the award in 2010.
She will receive a medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters which includes a prize of US$10,000 in cash. Other previous winners include Toni Morrison, Robert Caro and Walter Mosley.
“Lifetime achievement awards have been given to writers who have had great acclaim and success, but they can also celebrate people who have done important work and have not had the same level of recognition,” says Ruth Dickey, the National Book Foundation's executive director. “[Yamashita] writes in such gorgeous and complicated ways about culture and racism and the fragility and strength of community,” she adds.