Ursula K. Le Guin’s Prophetic Speech Wins the NBAs

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In her speech at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, Ursula K. Le Guin shares her Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters with “all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long,” blasts the commercialization of literature and the greed of publishers, and predicts:

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now . . . and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who remember freedom: poets, visionaries, the realists of a larger reality. Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art.


Claire Burgess’s short fiction has appeared in Third Coast, Hunger Mountain, and PANK online, among others. Her stories have received special mentions in the Pushcart Prize and Best American anthologies, but haven’t actually made it into one yet. She’s a graduate of the Vanderbilt University MFA program, where she co-founded Nashville Review. She lives in Pittsburgh by way of the deep South and says things on Twitter @Clairabou_. More from this author →