NEW YORK — A novel chronicling a Vietnam veteran's painful return from war has won a National Book Award, as has a detailed history of the events leading to the development of the atomic bomb.
Larry Heineman's "Paco's Story" won the award for fiction, and Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" took the nonfiction award. The awards included a $10,000 prize and a plaque.
"Paco's Story," published by Farrar Strauss Giroux, follows young Paco Sullivan from a ferocious fire fight in Vietnam, in which he is horribly wounded, back to the United States.
Heineman, a Vietnam veteran, was born in Chicago; he lives there with his wife and children. His first novel, "Close Quarters," was published in 1977.
Rhodes, in "The Making of the Atomic Bomb," takes the reader from the moment the idea of an atomic device entered the mind of famed theoretical physicist Leo Szilard to the apocalyptic moment when the United States dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.
Rhodes has written four novels and four nonfiction books, including "The Ozarks," "Looking for America" and "The Ungodly."
Other authors nominated for the fiction award were Alice McDermott for "That Night," Toni Morrison for "Beloved," Philip Roth for "The Counterlife" and Howard Norman for "Northern Lights," his first novel.
Nominated for the nonfiction award were James Gleick for "Chaos: Making a New Science," Claudia Koontz for "Mothers in the Fatherland," David Herbert Donald for "Look Forward," and Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins for their work, "New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars."
Recipients of the book awards are selected by authors and critics picked by the award board and previous judges.