Lynn Neary

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This year, the National Book Awards ceremony comes at a time when the nation has rarely seemed more divided. The bitter presidential campaign exposed a fault line in the United States that will not easily be repaired. And while there's no one simple answer, Lisa Lucas, head of the National Book Foundation, recommends one way to understand the other side: read.

"My life is small" she says, "and I think books are a way to make your life larger."

For the first time, an American has won the Man Booker Prize, Britain's most coveted literary award. Paul Beatty will take home the award and the purse, 50,000 pounds (about $61,000), for his novel The Sellout, a satire about race in the U.S. Amanda Foreman, chair of the judges, called the book "a novel for our times," and said Beatty "slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with verve and a snarl."

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The 109th Nobel Prize for Literature will be awarded Thursday morning. The academy is known for its cloak-and-dagger methods to prevent leaks about its choice. NPR has a look at past winners and their reactions to winning.

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Step aside Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — a grumpy old man may soon be taking your place as America's favorite fictional Swede. Ove — that's pronounced Ooo-vah — is the lovable curmudgeon at the center of A Man Called Ove. The film, which opens in the U.S. on Friday, is based on a Swedish best-selling novel.

Every year, libraries around the country observe Banned Books Week, to remind the public that even well known and much loved books can be the targets of censorship. This year, Washington, D.C.'s public library came up with a clever idea to focus attention on the issue: a banned books scavenger hunt.

In the world of literary prizes, Britain's Man Booker stands out as one of the most prestigious and lucrative. So every year, writers and their publishers and agents are eager to learn who made the final cut. Tuesday, the six writers who made it to the shortlist were revealed.

Two Americans, two Brits and two Canadians are now competing for the award, which is given each year for a novel written in English that has been published in the U.K.

During the two decades he spent working for an investment firm, Amor Towles visited a lot of luxury hotels. One night, he was in Geneva at a hotel where he'd stayed many times before — and he noticed some familiar faces in the lobby. Towles realized they were people who actually lived there and thought to himself, "Oh that's kind of an interesting notion for a book."

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