Miami's Edwidge Danticat didn't win The National Book Award for her searing memoir Brother, I'm Dying Wednesday night, but we love her anyway. The nonfiction award went to Tim Weiner for his well-received CIA history A Legacy of Ashes. Haven't read Ashes, but the buzz has been good on it, so congrats to Weiner (even though we were not-so-secretly rooting for the hometown hero).
And for once the fiction winner was the favorite: Denis Johnson's towering Vietnam novel Tree of Smoke. After taking one look at the size of that sucker, I pawned it off on the excellent freelance writer Andrew Ervin, who wrote:
"I'm not sure there's been a better Vietnam novel since William Eastlake's The Bamboo Bed. Honestly, I can't be sure that there's been a better American novel published in the past 10 years. Johnson understands the conflicts at the heart of the American psyche, and in Tree of Smoke he delivers the sort of historical novel that not only shows us where we've been but also shines a light on where we're going. It is a masterpiece."
Read Andrew's review here: http://www.miamiherald.com/215/v-print/story/232057.html
Other winners: Sherman Alexie won the award for young adult literature with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Robert Hass won for poetry with Time and Materials.