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Taking Stephen King Seriously

<I>Wolves of the Calla,</I> part of the Dark Tower series, is Stephen King's latest book.
Wolves of the Calla, part of the Dark Tower series, is Stephen King's latest book.

Critics have rarely embraced Stephen King as a serious writer. But the prolific novelist, best known for his horror stories, is about to enter some serious company. The National Book Foundation is honoring the best-selling author with a lifetime achievement award whose previous recipients have included Arthur Miller, Eudora Welty and John Updike. King discusses the award and his writing with NPR's Susan Stamberg.

Beginning with 1974's Carrie, King has published 40 books and more than 200 short stories. The author of The Shining, Pet Sematary, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption resents being pegged in one genre.

"It's always made me uneasy to be called a horror writer or a suspense writer," King tells Stamberg on Morning Edition. "They're hooks to hang your hat on and I reject them. I've never denied that I was a horror writer, but I've never introduced myself as that either. I see myself as Stephen King. I'm an American novelist, and that's it."

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Susan Stamberg
Nationally renowned broadcast journalist Susan Stamberg is a special correspondent for NPR.