The ghost of Norman Mailer, who died November 10, seemed to preside over the 58th annual National Book Awards, held November 14 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City's Times Square. Indeed, this year's gala awards ceremony was marked by the oddly appropriate combination of an unruly picketline of strikers outside the hotel and the many heartfelt tributes by NBA award-winners to Mailer's towering and unruly career as a writer. Accepting her award for Distinguished Contributions to American Letters, novelist and essayist Joan Didion invoked Mailer and said, “There was someone who knew what writing was for.”