Among the twelve cultural figures being honored with National Humanities Medals this year are four Random House authors: Jill Ker Conway, Joan Didion, Robert B. Silvers, and Anna Deavere Smith. Inaugurated in 1997, the National Humanities Medal "honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens' engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans' access to important resources in the humanities." Additionally, Ernest J. Gaines will be one of twelve recipients of a National Medal of Arts, "the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government." Gaines previously received a National Humanities Medal in 2000. President Barack Obama will present this year's medals on July 10th in Washington, D.C. in the East Room of the White House.