Mailbox – Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Winners

The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation presented the 14th annual Legacy Awards in fiction, nonfiction and poetry and celebrated its 25th anniversary on Friday, October 23rd.

Nearly 200 people, including creative writers, editors and publicists from publishing houses, professors in university literary programs, book clubs, and longtime foundation supporters, attended the ceremony at the Washington Plaza Hotel.

The results of the juried awards in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are as follows:


Winner – Laila Lalami for The Moor’s Account

Finalist – Roxane Gay for An Untamed State

Finalist – Tiphanie Yanique for Land of Love and Drowning

Nominee – Chris Abani for The Secret History of Las Vegas

Nominee – Ishmael Beah for Radiance of Tomorrow

Nominee – Nadifa Mohamed for The Orchard of Lost Souls


Winner – Elizabeth Nunez for Not for Everyday Use

Finalist – Charles M. Blow for Fire Shut Up In My Bones

Finalist – Charles E. Cobb Jr. for This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed

Nominee – Danielle Allen for Our Declaration

Nominee – Saladin Ambar for Malcolm X at Oxford Union

Nominee – Bob Herbert for Losing Our Way


Winner – Claudia Rankine for Citizen

Finalist – Geffrey Davis for Revising the Storm

Finalist – Roger Reeves for King Me

Nominee – Brian Gilmore for We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters

Nominee – Gregory Pardlo for Digest

Nominee – Willie Perdomo for The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon

Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat received the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation’s highest honor, the North Star Award, for a career as a novelist and essayist writing of her homeland Haiti and social justice. Since her first book, Breath, Eyes, Memory, Danticat has been hailed as a bold, lyrical voice in literature. The world-renowned artist’s numerous books include Brother, I’m Dying and Krik?Krak!, both National Book Award finalists; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist.

The Hurston/Wright Founding Members Awards for College Writers also were presented for fiction and poetry. The prize money was provided by publisher Harper Collins Amistad. The winners were Grace Jean-Pierre of the University of South Florida in fiction for Espwa, and Renia White of Cornell University for her poem Syndoche. Two fiction Honorable Mentions were presented to Sarah Daniele Dickerson of Otis College of Art and Design for The Turner Haunt and Jasmine Evans of Mills College for Blurred Lines. The College Writers Award, the foundation’s first program, began in 1990.

Acclaimed poets Nikky Finney, a National Book Award winner, and Yusef Komunyakaa, a Pulitzer Prize winner, read original works in special tributes to the foundation’s namesakes, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright.

Surrounded by the literary community that has long supported the foundation, Marita Golden, co-founder, announced veteran journalist, Deborah Heard, former Style Editor of the Washington Post will take over leadership of the organization as of January 2016.

For more information about the foundation, each author and their award-winning books, go to


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