Ta-Nehisi Coates can now add a National Book Award to his growing list of accomplishments: The journalist, who was recently given a MacArthur genius grant, has won the National Book Award for nonfiction for Between the World and Me, his look at race and policing in America, written as a letter to his teenage son. Coates dedicated the award Wednesday to his friend Prince Jones, who was killed by a police officer who confused him with a criminal 15 years ago; the officer was never punished. "Between the World and Me comes out of that place," Coates said, per the Los Angeles Times. "Every day you turn on the TV and you see some sort of violence being directed at black people." The AP calls the best-seller "among the most uncompromising works in recent memory to gain such a wide following," adding it's "well on its way to a lasting place in American letters."
The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for his short-story collection Fortune Smiles. Johnson—who won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2012 novel The Orphan Master's Son, per the New York Times—was so shocked that he remarked, "I told my wife and my kids, 'Don't come across America because this is not going to happen.'" Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life and Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies were also finalists. Neal Shusterman won the award for young people's literature for Challenger Deep, about a teen's struggle with mental illness, while Robin Coste Lewis won the poetry award for Voyage of the Sable Venus. Don DeLillo, 78, won a lifetime achievement medal, and James Patterson—who's donated $2.75 million to school libraries and bookstores—was awarded for his outstanding service to the literary community. All winners took home $10,000. (Read more Ta-Nehisi Coates stories.)