Jesmyn Ward to Receive Library of Congress American Fiction Prize

Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward will receive the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, which honors an American literary writer whose body of work "is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination... [and] seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that--throughout long, consistently accomplished careers--have told us something essential about the American experience."

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden selected Ward--who, at 45, is the youngest person to receive the Library's fiction award for her lifetime of work--as this year's winner based on nominations from more than 60 distinguished literary figures, including former winners of the prize, acclaimed authors and literary critics from around the world. The virtual prize ceremony will take place September 3 during the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

"Jesmyn Ward's literary vision continues to become more expansive and piercing, addressing urgent questions about racism and social injustice being voiced by Americans," said Hayden. "Jesmyn's writing is precise yet magical, and I am pleased to recognize her contributions to literature with this prize."

Ward commented: "I am deeply honored to receive this award, not only because it aligns my work with legendary company, but because it also recognizes the difficulty and rigour of meeting America on the page, of appraising her as a lover would: clear-eyed, open-hearted, keen to empathize and connect. This is our calling, and I am grateful for it."

Ward is the author of the novels Where the Line Bleeds; Salvage the Bones, winner of the 2011 National Book Award; and Sing, Unburied, Sing, winner of the 2017 National Book Award. Her nonfiction work includes the memoir Men We Reaped, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and the 2020 work Navigate Your Stars. She is also the editor of the anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race.

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