Diane Ackerman was born in Waukegan, Illinois. She received an M.A., M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. The Zookeeper's Wife, published by W. W. Norton, is a narrative nonfiction about one of the most successful hideouts of World War II, the Warsaw Zoo, and is a tale of people, animals, and subversive acts of compassion.
Here are some of the judges' reasons for awarding the prize:
"The Zookeepers Wife is a groundbreaking work of nonfiction," said selection committee member Mark Kurlansky, "in which the human relationship to nature is explored in an absolutely original way through looking at the Holocaust." Kathleen Dean Moore, the committee's chairperson, said: "A few years ago, 'nature' writers were asking themselves, How can a book be at the same time a work of art, an act of conscientious objection to the destruction of the world, and an affirmation of hope and human decency? The Zookeeper's Wife answers this question."
Ackerman published several nonfiction and poetry books , including the best-selling A Natural History of the Senses. Here is a tidbit from the introduction of her children's poetry collection, Animal Sense:
“A stapler with its tiny fangs
Cannot outwit orangutangs.
Rocks are very good at sitting,
but never walk or take up knitting.
Living things all feel and sense
their way through every happenstance.“
The following books were finalists for the award: Strange as This Weather Has Been: A Novel, by Ann Pancake (Counterpoint); The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring, by Richard Preston (Random House); Sky Time in Gray's River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place, by Robert Michael Pyle (Houghton Mifflin); The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman (St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books). Each of these authors will receive $500.
Found by way of Fred Bortz's science blog.
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