The highest honor at this weekend’s National Book Festival will go to E.L. Doctorow. As previously reported, the celebrated author of “Ragtime,” “Billy Bathgate,” “The Book of Daniel” and many other novels, will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington will present the award to Doctorow at an evening reception for all the festival authors and staff on Friday. Four of the authors — not yet announced — will deliver brief remarks.
That elegant reception in the Thomas Jefferson Building — with buffet and band — is closed to the public, but everyone is encouraged to hear Doctorow open the National Book Festival on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Fiction & Mystery room. He’ll be in conversation with former Book World editor Marie Arana. At 11 a.m., Doctorow will be available to sign copies of his books. (You can buy books at the festival or bring your own.)
And speaking of his books: “City of God,” his dazzling theological detective story first published in 2000, has just been reissued by Random House. Reviewing the novel for Book World, Madison Smartt Bell wrote: “ ‘City of God’ is the sort of philosophical novel that our times demand. If Doctorow cannot answer the questions he asks, who can? — and he has asked them as cogently and stubbornly as Job.”
Senior publicity manager Jennifer Garza said the new paperback edition is part of “an ongoing project to repackage the entire backlist of this American master, who is now in his fifth decade publishing with Random House.”
Remember: The National Book Festival is being held Saturday at the Washington Convention Center (not on the National Mall) from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.