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Library of Congress awards prize for American fiction to James McBride

NEW YORK — (AP) — The Library of Congress has awarded a lifetime achievement prize to James McBride, whose acclaimed novels include “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store,” “Deacon King Kong” and “The Good Lord Bird.”

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Thursday that McBride, whose story lines have ranged from the crusades of abolitionist John Brown to a Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1960s, is this year's winner of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The award, previously given to Marilynne Robinson and Don DeLillo among others, is given to an American author who excels as a prose stylist and creative thinker.

“I’m honored to bestow the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction on a writer as imaginative and knowing as James McBride,” Hayden said in a statement. “McBride knows the American soul deeply, reflecting our struggles and triumphs in his fiction, which so many readers have intimately connected with. I, also, am one of his enthusiastic readers.”

McBride, 66, said in a statement that he was wished his mother were alive to hear of his prize. He then joked, "Does it mean I can use the Library? If so, I’m double thrilled.”

McBride has been among the country's most honored authors in recent years, winning a National Book Award for “Good Lord Bird,” the Kirkus Prize for “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store" and the Carnegie Medal for “Deacon King Kong,” which Oprah Winfrey chose for her book club. In 2016, he was given a National Humanities Medal.

On Aug. 24, he will discuss “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., a gathering hosted by the Library of Congress.

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