Patti Smith Wins National Book Award

Singer's memoir, 'Just Kids,' details her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the Sixties and Seventies

November 18, 2010 11:01 AM ET

Patti Smith won the 2010 National Book Award in the nonfiction category for her memoir Just Kids.

"I dreamed of having a book of my own, of writing one that I could put on a shelf," the singer said when accepting the award in New York Wednesday night. "Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don't abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book."

The Rolling Stone Interview: Patti Smith, 1996

Just Kids recounts Smith's relationship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the late Sixties and early Seventies, and includes retellings of her encounters with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, William Burroughs, the Andy Warhol crowd and other luminaries of the era. Smith and Mapplethorpe met in 1967, when both were 20, and lived together for five years, first as lovers and later platonically. During these years, the two spurred each other to new adventures in their respective fields: He as a photographer, she as a poet and later as a songwriter and musician.

Photos: Random Notes

Just Kids, Smith's first memoir (she has issued several books of poetry), received rapturous reviews upon its release in January. National Book Award winners get a check for $10,000 and a bronze statue, but more importantly, prestige (and a sales boost). Past winners include William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, Wallace Stevens, Ralph Ellison, W.H. Auden, Joan Didion, Gore Vidal and Philip Roth. The other finalists in the Non-Fiction category this year: Barbara Demick, with Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea; John W. Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq; Justin Spring, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward ; and Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War.

Patti Smith Wins National Book Award for Memoir [New York Times]

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »