May seems to be the month to recognize writing talent. J. Anthony Lukas, author of "Common Ground," and Robert Norrell, author of "Reaping the Whirlwind," cowinners of the sixth annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards, were honored yesterday afternoon at a ceremony at the McLean home of Ethel Kennedy. The two will share a $2,500 prize. Preceding the ceremony, there was a forum at American University chaired by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who established the book awards.

Judges for the 1986 awards were poet Nikki Giovanni; New York Times columnist Tom Wicker; Harvey Sloane, former mayor of Louisville; and Richard Wade, a professor of history at New York University. The books were selected for best reflecting the central concerns of Robert Kennedy.

Last night, four Washington writers received the annual Larry Neal Writers' Awards at a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The 1986 winners were Elizabeth Alexander for fiction, Jacquie Jones for poetry, Nick Mathwick for drama and Marat Moore for essays. The recipients, who were selected from more than 200 writers, each received $500. The awards were presented by Peggy Cooper Cafritz, chairman of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which sponsors the competition. Barbara Nicholson, acting director of the commission, also spoke at the awards ceremony.

Neal, a poet and essayist who died in 1981, was an important force in the black arts movement of the 1960s. The Neal awards were established to encourage the development of writers who live in the District.

The Granddaughter Also Rises

Lorian Hemingway isn't afraid of criticizing a recognized genius, even if it happens to be her grandfather, writer Ernest Hemingway. Lorian Hemingway has written a review of her grandfather's soon-to-be-published posthumous novel, "The Garden of Eden," for next month's issue of Rolling Stone, and her report is anything but reverent. "It the book is not just bad. It is God-awful," she wrote in the review, calling the work "as dead as the man."

A writer herself, Hemingway denied there is a family feud over the book's publication by Scribners, Hemingway's longtime publisher. The publication was authorized by Ernest Hemingway's sons, Patrick and Jack, and is scheduled to come out May 20.

In an interview with Reuters news service Thursday, Hemingway said she believed the family allowed publication out of good faith, not to make money. "Patrick honestly thinks it is a good book. I think Scribners needs to make some money and Hemingway sells for Scribners." Hemingway said it is the worst of the 10 books published since her grandfather's suicide in 1961.

Wedding Bells for Walters

TV interviewer Barbara Walters, 54, will marry TV executive Merv Adelson, 56, after sundown today at the secluded Beverly Hills estate owned by Leonard and Wendy Goldberg, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. The two have been engaged for some time, but friends said they decided only a few days ago to get married. Walters is a star newscaster for ABC-TV; Adelson is chairman of the board of Lorimar Productions.

End Notes

Songwriter Irving Berlin will celebrate his 98th birthday tomorrow with his family. Although in good health, Berlin no longer participates in public ceremonies, his secretary said yesterday. The composer does not plan to participate in the Statue of Liberty centennial observances in July. "He doesn't do that kind of thing anymore," his secretary said . . .

Singer Kate Smith underwent surgery for breast cancer yesterday at the Raleigh Community Hospital in North Carolina, and a hospital spokeswoman said the outlook for Smith, 79, is satisfactory. The singer is best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" . . .

Steve Wozniak, who has earned approximately $100 million since he cofounded Apple Computer Inc. in 1977, will finally graduate from college next week. Wozniak, 35, a college dropout, will graduate from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. Wozniak, who is scheduled to deliver the commencement address, attended the school under the pseudonym Rocky Raccoon Clark, a combination of his dog's name and his wife's maiden name. He selected the inconspicuous alias in an effort to gain anonymity when he returned to school . . . First Lady Nancy Reagan telephoned Paul and Ellen Girard at Children's Hospital in Boston yesterday to tell them that an Air Force jet is ready to transport a donor liver for their 9-month-old son Alex, whose liver was destroyed by severe hepatitis. Doctors say Alex has only a week to live without a new liver. "She told us that her prayers and thoughts were with us and she wishes there was more she could do," Ellen Girard said.