Spy stories took National Book Awards last night, as a history of the CIA by New York Times reporter Tim Weiner took non-fiction honors and Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, a sprawling thriller about a CIA agent in Vietnam, led the the winners. Joan Didion accepted a medal for distinguished contribution, noting the absence of Norman Mailer, a revered regular at the annual NBA festivities who died at 84 on Saturday.
"The last time I was in this room, Norman Mailer was getting this award," Didion said. "There was someone who really, truly knew what writing was for." NPR producer Terry Gross took home an award for outstanding service to the American literary community.