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'South to America' won the National Book Award for nonfiction—here are the past 10 winners of the literary prize

Imani Perry took home the top nonfiction prize at the 73rd National Book Awards.
Dia Dipasupil | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Imani Perry's "South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation" has been named the National Book Award winner for nonfiction.

The book chronicles the Princeton professor's journey to her native Alabama, putting forth the idea that to better understand America, one must first understand the history and culture of the American South.

Perry's book beat out other finalists including John A. Farrell's "Ted Kennedy: A Life" and David Quammen's "Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus".

"'Bama has a National Book Award," Perry said while accepting her award in New York City on Wednesday evening. In her tearful acceptance speech, the 50-year-old award winner said that she writes for "my people."

"I write for the sinned-against and the sanctified. I write for the ones who clean the toilets and till the soil and walk the picket lines," she said. "For the hungry, the caged, the disregarded, the holding on. I write for you. I write because I love sentences, and I love freedom more."

The winners in each National Book Award category receive $10,000, NBC News reports, with nominees chosen by a five-person panel with judges including authors, editors and booksellers.

These are the previous nonfiction winners over the past 10 years.

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