Colson Whitehead is Awarded the 2020 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction

Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead is adding another prestigious award to his catalog. The Library of Congress announced on Monday that Whitehead will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

Whitehead is going to receive the award during the 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival. Whitehead has received the Pulitzer Prize for his novels The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad.

The Nickel Boys
The Nickel Boys Colson Whitehead

The annual award is given to American writers “whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. Whitehead was chosen from a list that included over 60 nominees. At age 50, Whitehead is the youngest recipient of the award which is given for a lifetime of work.

“Colson Whitehead’s work is informed by probing insights into the human condition and empathy for those who struggle with life’s sometimes harrowing vicissitudes,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. “In novels such as The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, he has expanded the scope of historical events, transforming them into metaphors for today’s world.”

As someone who has read both of those novels, I have to say the award is well deserved. The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad are powerful works of fiction that are a must read. As a fan, it is great seeing Whitehead getting the recognition he deserves.

“As a kid, I’d walk into great New York City libraries like the Schomburg and the Mid-Manhattan, on a field trip or for a school assignment, and feel this deep sense of awe, as if I’d stumbled into a sacred pocket in the city,” Whitehead said. “I hope that right now there’s a young kid who looks like me, who sees the Library of Congress recognize Black artists and feels encouraged to pursue their own vision and find their own sacred spaces of inspiration.”

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