The National Book Foundation announced it will award its 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to E. L. Doctorow and its 2013 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to Dr. Maya Angelou at the 64th National Book Awards ceremony on November 20 in New York City.
"We are privileged this year to recognize two outstanding figures in the world of literature in honoring E.L. Doctorow and Dr. Maya Angelou," said National Book Foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum. "Doctorow is a master of historical fiction who has brought the events of the past to people all over the world in an extraordinary fashion…Dr. Angelou's body of work transcends the words on the page. She has been on the front lines of history and the fight for social justice and decade after decade remains a symbol of the redemptive power of literature in the contemporary world."
Doctorow's 1975 novel Ragtime received the first National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1976, was named one of the 100 best English-language novels of the twentieth century by the editorial board of the Modern Library, and was adapted for a motion picture in 1981 and a Broadway musical in 1998. His upcoming novel, Andrew's Brain, will be published in early 2014. Dr. Angelou rose to international prominence in 1969 with the publication of her literary autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Doctorow will be the 26th recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Previous winners include Joan Didion, Elmore Leonard, Toni Morrison, Norman Mailer, and Tom Wolfe.
The Literarian Award, in its ninth year, recognizes an individual whose work has enhanced the literary world during a lifetime achievement. Among the past winners are Dave Eggers, Terry Gross, and Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr.
Nominations for both awards are made by former National Book Award winners, finalists, and judges, and other writers and literary professionals from around the country. Final selections are made by the National Book Foundation's board of directors.