James McBride, whose Song Yet Sung was the 2009 One Maryland One Book selection, won the National Book Award for fiction last night. McBride's Good Lord Bird, a boisterous take on John Brown's story, was considered a longshot against critical faves like Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge and George Saunders' Tenth of December. McBride was reportedly stunned by his win and hadn't prepared a speech.
In some respects, Song Yet Sung, which was inspired by Harriet Tubman, informs Good Lord Bird. In fact, Tubman makes an appearance in McBride's latest novel, which comes highly recommended.