In a glittering ceremony at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, novelist E. L. Doctorow and Barry Lopez were chosen winners of the prestigious American Book Awards on Monday night.
Doctorow was selected for his novel "World's Fair" (Random House), a re-creation of a child's life during the Great Depression. Lopez was honored for "Arctic Dreams" (Charles Scribner's Sons), an account of his travels in the Arctic Circle.
Each award carries a $10,000 prize, along with a plaque designed by sculptor Louise Nevelson. Doctorow announced he would donate a portion of his winnings to the Freedom to Write Committee of PEN, the international writers' organization.
The two works were chosen from among 270 titles submitted by publishers from titles published this year. Judges are writers selected by the board of directors of the American Book Awards.
With tears in his eyes, Lopez remarked as he accepted the award, "I'm in a room full of people whose work means the world to me.
"You're an apprentice, no matter how old you are, as a writer," Lopez went on. "What holds us together is the way we cherish this language."
For his part, Doctorow quipped, "Literature is not a horse race. At the same time, when I'm offered an award or a prize, I tend to accept it."
Beginning Jan. 1, the awards will return to their original name, the National Book Awards. Prize money for 1987 is expected to leap to $25,000.