ursula_leguinUrsula K Le Guin has been awarded the USA’s National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

The recipient recieves US$10,000 and is a person who has enriched the literary heritage of the USA over a life of service, or a corpus of work.  The citation includes the following:

For more than forty years, Le Guin has defied the conventions of narrative, language, character, and genre, as well as transcended the boundaries between fantasy and realism, to forge new paths for literary fiction.  Among the nation’s most revered writers of science fiction and fantasy, Le Guin’s carefully imagined worlds challenge readers to consider profound philosophical and existential questions about gender, race, the environment and society.  Her boldly experimental and critically acclaimed novels, short stories, and children’s books. written in elegant prose, are popular with millions of readers around the world.

A few years ago I wrote to Le Guin, thanking her for the Earthsea books that sustained and enriched my childhood and pointing out that the time had come for me to introduce my own children Le Guin Bookplateto Ged, and his world.  I sent her some bookmarks that the children made for her.

Le Guin wrote back right away, thanking each child for their bookmark “a terrific dragon and a super dragon-tree-owl.”  She also kindly included some signed bookplates, again addressed to each child (and a spare for me!)  Naturally we were all thrilled.

Read and/or watch Le Guin’s passionate acceptance speech, in which she notes that “Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art.”

The Guardian has a feature-length profile of Le Guin, and it’s well worth the read.  The article has inspired me to delve more widely into Le Guin’s oeuvre.  I’ll start with the Earthsea quartet, I think, and slowly read my way through the rest – or at least the more well known ones.

Le Guin has her own website too, and it’s full of interesting snippets – and a blog.