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National Book Award winners, Kendi, Whitehead to attend Tucson Festival of Books
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National Book Award winners, Kendi, Whitehead to attend Tucson Festival of Books

The Tucson Festival of Books, now in its ninth year, draws tens of thousands of book-lovers to the University of Arizona campus.

Colson Whitehead, whose “The Underground Railroad” won the National Book Award for fiction last week, and Ibram X. Kendi, whose “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” won for nonfiction, will both attend the ninth annual Tucson Festival of Books March 11-12.

“They will talk about different aspects of their books on a variety of panels,” said Helene Woodhams, co-chair of the festival’s literary committee.

The festival will offer a sneak peek at its 2017 literary lineup during its prologue event Sunday, Dec. 11, in the University of Arizona BookStore.

The National Book Awards were presented Wednesday during an emotional dinner ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan.

Whitehead’s Oprah Winfrey-endorsed narrative about an escaped slave already was the year’s most-talked-about literary work.

“I spent years looking at the absolute worst of America, its horrible history of racism, but in the end I never lost faith,” Kendi said.

“In the midst of the human ugliness of racism, there is the human beauty of the resistance to racism.”

The National Book Awards, now in their 67th year, are presented by the National Book Foundation.

Each of the winners in the four competitive categories received $10,000. Choices are made by panels of judges that include writers, critics, journalists and scholars.

In addition to the National Book Award winners at the Tucson book festival, there will also be a number of Pulitzer Prize winners along with stellar children’s book authors, and U.S Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.

“It’s a very exciting lineup in addition to dealing with timely subjects that people are currently talking about,” Woodhams said. “There’s a lot to look forward to.”

Last year more than 130,000 people attended the Tucson book festival, held on the University of Arizona campus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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