Don DeLillo at the National Book Festival gala held in the Library of Congress on Sept. 20. (Ron Charles/Washington Post) Don DeLillo at the National Book Festival gala held in the Library of Congress on Sept. 20. (Ron Charles/Washington Post)

Don DeLillo, named the first recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, spoke about his early love affair with books at a gala Friday night before the National Book Festival.

The award, announced in April, recognizes DeLillo for his lifetime of extraordinary work, including “White Noise” (1985), “Libra” (1988) and “Underworld” (1997), along with more than a dozen other novels.

Speaking to more than 100 festival authors and their guests, along with staff members of the library in the Thomas Jefferson building, DeLillo said, “I’ve had a lucky life as a writer. Here at the Library of Congress, this has never been more clear to me than it is now.”

DeLillo will receive the award at a public ceremony on the Mall on Sunday.