The National Book Awards are among the most important in the American literary calendar. This year's winner in the fiction category was Peter Matthiessen for Shadow Country, a reworking of a previously published trilogy of novels about an Florida Everglades pioneer. The novel is described on the website as :
... an epic of American rise and descent—poetic, mythic, devastating. From his Everglades trilogy Peter Matthiessen has coaxed a masterpiece, a wrenching story of familial, racial and environmental degradation stretching from the Civil War to the Great Depression. His E.J. Watson emerges through a dazzling array of voices as a singular figure in our national literature, the looming personification of manifest destiny within the dark reaches of our history.Matthiessen himself sounds an amazing guy, not only a novelist but also a naturalist and a Zen priest.
The runners up were (with links to the NBA site so you can go read about them!):
Aleksandar Hemon - The Lazarus ProjectIn the non-fiction category the winner was Annette Gordon-Reed for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, the Poetry Award was won by Mark Doty for Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems, and the Young People's Literature Award by Judy Blundell for What I Saw and How I Lied.
Rachel Kushner - Telex from Cuba
Marilynne Robinson - Home
Salvatore Scibona - The End
The full lists of runners up in each category are on the website, along with information about the books and authors, and interviews with each one of them.
Motoko Rich has an account of the awards on the New York Times website.