The 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction has gone to Jesmyn Ward, who at 45, is the youngest person to receive the library’s fiction award and is being honored for her lifetime of work examining racism and social injustice.
Ward's “Salvage the Bones” earned the 2011 National Book Award and her “Sing, Unburied, Sing” was 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.” Ward, who is a professor of creative writing at Tulane University, was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2017.
The virtual prize ceremony will take place at the 2022 National Book Festival on Sept. 3 in Washington, D.C.
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The annual Prize for American Fiction 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.”
“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 rigor of meeting America on the page, of appraising her as a lover would: clear-eyed, open-hearted, keen to empathize and connect,” Ward said in a statement. “This is our calling, and I am grateful for it.”