Hurston/Wright Foundation Announces 2016 Legacy Awards
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation announced the winners and finalists of the 2016 Legacy Awards and paid tribute to celebrated authors Ernest J. Gaines and Junot Díaz on Friday, October 21st in Washington, D.C.
More than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia attended. National Public Radio’s Michel Martin served as Mistress of Ceremony and novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez delivered a tribute to the foundation’s namesakes. The highlight of the evening was the naming of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2015 in the categories of debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Mitchell Jackson, author of The Residue Years and a former Legacy Awards finalist, presented the North Star Award — the foundation’s highest honor for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community — to Ernest J. Gaines, the award-winning author of A Lesson Before Dying. Marita Golden, co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, presented Junot Díaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and founder of Voices of Our Nation, with the Ella Baker Award for championing diversity in MFA programs, his leadership in creating workshops for writers of color, and social justice advocacy.
The winners and finalists of the Legacy Awards are as follows:
Mourner’s Bench by Sanderia Faye (The University of Arkansas Press) – Winner
Delicious Foods by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company) – Winner
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – Finalist
The Lost Child by Caryl Phillips (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Finalist
Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Pamela Newkirk (Amistad) — Winner
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander (Grand Central Publishing) — Finalist
Confronting Black Jacobins: The United States, the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic by Gerald Horne (Monthly Review Press) – Finalist
Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press) –Winner
Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan (The University of Georgia Press) — Finalist
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (University of Pittsburgh Press) – Finalist
The Award for College Writers, under the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, also was presented Friday night. Princeton University’s John S. Wilson III won for fiction and Joy Priest of the University of South Carolina won for poetry, both of whom read from their winning works. Honorable mentions were awarded to Clynthia Burton Graham for fiction, and to Vanity Hendricks-Robinson and Latasha D. Johnson for poetry.
The 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by writers from the United States as well as the international Black writing community.
The additional nominees, all of whom were announced in June, were:
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson (Penguin Press)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown and Company)
The Sellout by Paul Beatty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson (William Morrow)
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture by Ron Stodghill (Amistad)
Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness by Harriet A. Washington (Little, Brown and Company)
The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America by D. Watkins (Hot Books/Skyhorse Publishing)
How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes (Penguin Books)
It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time by Angela Jackson (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)
Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis (Alfred A. Knopf)
About the Hurston/Wright Foundation: The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation was founded in 1990 in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to discovering, mentoring and honoring Black writers. Through workshops for adult writers and teens, master classes and readings, the organization preserves the voices of Black writers in the world literary canon, serves as a community for writers, and continues a tradition of literary excellence in storytelling established by its namesakes. The Hurston/Wright Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit. Learn more at http://www.hurstonwright.org
p.s. you may have noticed a few people with Caribbean roots mentioned, folks like Junot Diaz, Caryl Philips (fiction finalist), and Naomi Jackson who has Barbadian and Antiguan roots (nominee for debut fiction). Congratulations to them and all the winners and nominees. And to all of us writing and dreaming, continue to strive.