Author Edmund White will receive an honorary National Book Award this fall.

The 79-year-old White is among the most influential gay writers of the past half-century, known for works such as the novels "A Boy's Own Story" and "The Beautiful Room is Empty."

The National Book Foundation announced Thursday that filmmaker-author John Waters will present White with the 2019 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The event will take place during the Nov. 20th awards ceremony, when competitive prizes for fiction, nonfiction, translation, poetry and young people's literature also will be announced.

Foundation executive director Lisa Lucas called White's career "revolutionary and vital," documenting not only "queer lives, but also the broader trajectory of American culture."

Previous medal winners include Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and Robert Caro.

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