WC is extremely pleased to report that one of his personal heroes and favorite authors, the inestimable Ursula K. Le Guin, won the National Book Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. It’s her second National Book Award; in 1973 she won for one of her early books, The Farthest Shore, the third book in her Earthsea Trilogy.
Yes, you read that right. A writer of science fiction and fantasy was given an award for her contribution to American letters.
And then Le Guin gave a six minute speech that is absolutely worth your time to watch:
A barn-burner of a speech, made in her customary short, declarative sentences.
A transcript of her speech is available here. But here’s a quote to think about this weekend:
We live in an age of capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.
Congratulations, Ms. Le Guin on a well-deserved award. Thank you for the many hours of pleasure and insight your books have given me. And thank you for using the National Book Awards event to eloquently and cogently making points that are important to every thoughtful reader.
It was Leguin who warned us, “Authors and wizards are not always to be trusted: nobody can explain a dragon.” Perhaps, but you can always trust Le Guin to entertain and enrich thoughtful reader or listener. And if anyone can satisfactorily explain a dragon, it would be Le Guin.