Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell received an unprecedented honor last night, as their book March: Book Three became the first graphic novel to ever receive the National Book Award.
The March trilogy, published by Top Shelf Productions/IDW Publishing, depicts Lewis’s firsthand account of the Civil Rights Movement, reflecting on the role of young people in the “nonviolent revolution” of the 1960s and its direct legacy in the modern day. Its previous honors include the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Eisner Award, two Harvey Awards, and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor. March is rapidly being adopted by universities and public school systems from New York to San Francisco, and recently spent six continuous weeks holding the top 3 spots on the New York Times Bestseller List.
After receiving the award from Katherine Paterson, chair of the Young People’s Literature award jury, Congressman Lewis said:
This is unbelievable. His voice shook with obvious emotion as he recalled a childhood visit to the public library in rural Alabama, where we were told that the library was for whites only and not for coloreds. Now, to come here and receive this award, with these two… it’s too much.
Nate Powell dedicated the award to his children “and their generation that will inherit this earth,” as well as to the incoming president of the United States, expressing a wish that it might transform his heart.
Andrew Aydin said:
There are two important lessons from this. One is that the story of the Movement must be told. We all must know it, if we are to understand the politics of today. And two: let the prejudice against comic books be buried once and for all.
You can watch the archived video of the ceremony’s livestream:
The three volumes of March are available wherever books are sold, separately as well as together in a slipcase set.
This morning the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for the 67th Annual National Book Awards — including, for the first time since 1957, a sitting member of Congress.
Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell are now National Book Award finalists in the Young People’s Literature category, for the concluding volume of their bestselling graphic novel trilogy March. The autobiographical series, which depicts Lewis’s firsthand account of the Civil Rights Movement, has previously won such honors as the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Eisner Award, two Harvey Awards, and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor. It is rapidly being adopted by universities and public school systems from New York to San Francisco, and recently spent six continuous weeks holding the top 3 spots on the New York Times Bestseller List.
Few graphic novels have previously reached NBA Finalist status, including such acclaimed works as American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang, Stitches by David Small, and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Other notable finalists include The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Profiles in Courage by Senator John F. Kennedy, who is himself a character in March.
The March team will travel to New York City to join this year’s other finalists for two days of festivities November 15th and 16th.
The National Book Awards announced their Longlist in the category of Young People’s Literature and have included Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel diptych about the Boxer Rebellion, Boxers & Saints. Boxers & Saints is the only graphic novel to make the list. This follows Yang’s American Born Chinese, the first graphic novel ever to be a finalist for the National Book Awards.
Boxers & Saints is one of the most ambitious graphic novels First Second has ever published. It offers a penetrating insight into not only one of the most controversial episodes of modern Chinese history, but into the very core of our human nature, tackling the difficult subjects of nationalism, faith, and coming-of-age. Gene Luen Yang is rightly called a master of the comics form, and he brings all his formidable talents to bear in this astonishing new work.
In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful. But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.