John Grisham receives first-ever National Book Festival Creative Achievement Award
With over 60 million copies in print worldwide in 29 langauges, John Grisham seemed overdue for some kind of award, and he finally received an impressive one--the first-ever Creative Achievement Award presented by the U.S. Librarian Of Congress since 1987, Dr. James Hadley Billington, to open the 2009 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.. In a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley following the award ceremony, Grisham recalled his boyhood in the Deep South captured in his autobiographical novel A Painted House and described the racial tensions in Mississippi as James Meredith made his historic enrollment at Ole Miss that triggered race riots and killings and how those events changed his views and shaped his career as a criminal defense lawyer, reflected in his courtroom drama, Street Lawyer. Yardley and Grisham then plunged into a literary discussion of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Eudora Welty and Grisham's exploration of themes involving innocence and justice in his more recent work before Grisham introduced his new book of short stories (which happen to be somewhat long, as Grisham pointed out), Ford County (Doubleday; November, 2009). Acknowledging that his first novel, Time To Kill, was a disappointment, Grisham described reading Ken Follett, Jeffrey Archer, Robert Ludlum, and authors on the New York Times bestseller lists before finding commercial success with his second legal thriller, The Firm and developing his trademark editing, research, and writing craft. Turning to issues he champions, Grisham talked about his and his wife's Hurricane Katrina relief aid efforts and tackled the injustices of homelessness and other social issues before ending the interview with a description of his motivation for writing his first book of non-fiction, The Innocent Man and the challenges of researching the case. Grisham then took questions from the audience about his book dedications; whether he would ever get on his soap box again and write more non-fiction; and the significance of Christian themes in his work. Grisham wrapped the book event with questions on the inspiration for 'Skipping Christmas and his research in Bologna, Italy, for The Broker.
Book and Author Headlines
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