Posted by: kshayes513 | December 9, 2014

Ursula K Le Guin at the National Book Awards

Last month at the National Book Awards, Ursula K. Le Guin was honored with the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contributions to American Letters, presented to her by Neil Gaiman. You probably know this already, unless you’ve been entirely ignoring any news lately, because video of Le Guin’s acceptance speech not only went viral, but made it into all the mainstream headlines as well.

Neil Gaiman presents Ursula K Le Guin with her medal. Image: National Book Foundation (screencap from video)

Neil Gaiman presents Ursula K Le Guin with her medal.     Image: National Book Foundation (screencap from video)

In his introduction, Gaiman talks about imitating authors as a young writer, and trying to imitate Le Guin and not being able to. This is immediately followed by Le Guin demonstrating exactly why he and everyone else has trouble imitating her. She gives an acceptance speech that says more in 4 minutes than most people can say in an hour, on topics that almost anyone else wouldn’t risk at an awards ceremony.

Yes, all of her writing is like that, too. Almost any Le Guin novel contains more story, more thought and feeling, more heft in about 300 pages, than most authors can get into a thousand page epic.

Here’s the entire video of the presentation of the medal, including Gaiman’s introduction and Le Guin’s acceptance, so you can see what all the fuss is about.

And once you’re caught up on your Le Guin — you are caught up, aren’t you? You’ve read stuff she’s published more recently than 1975, haven’t you? If not go here for some suggestions from my blog. Or just go to her own website (link on her name at the top of this post) and pick anything recent that you haven’t read.

Once you’ve done that, if you’re looking for more good reading, you might want to take a look at the other winners and nominees on this year’s slate, which are all listed, with links on the 2014 Awards page. I personally am particularly intrigued by the YA winner, Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, and by the fiction winner, Redeployment, a collection of short stories by Iraq war veteran Phil Klay.  If nothing else, Klay’s acceptance speech (starting at about 3:45 in the video) shines a brief, eloquent light into the experiences of returning veterans.

So go. Read. Be inspired.

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