Letter from the Chairman, Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Thoughtful, provocative writing about cultural identity has been rare in this country, so that makes it even more remarkable that in 1935 — 20 years before the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. The Board of Education — a Cleveland poet with a strong sense of social justice created a book prize to honor writers who have contributed to our understanding of race and racism. Over time, many outstanding works of fiction and non-fiction have been selected for the prize. The list starts with such legendary storytellers as Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston and Alan Paton; includes four Nobel Prize winners: Wole Soyinka, Toni Morrison, Nadine Gorimer, and Derek Walcott; and continues with compelling chroniclers: David Levering Lewis, Samantha Power and Jill Lepore.
Because of the importance of its mission and focus, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards have also attracted exceptionally strong juries. For the past several years I have been privileged to serve as Jury Chair, alongside four internationally-known writers and scholars: Rita Dove, Joyce Carol Oates, Steven Pinker and Simon Schama. We look forward to highlighting the creative voices that remind us of our shared humanity.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Jury
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is the author of In Search of Our Roots (Crown, 2009), which expands on interviews he conducted for his... Read More →
Rita Dove, Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995, has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama, making her... Read More →
Joyce Carol Oates has often expressed an intense nostalgia for the time and place of her childhood, and much of her fiction lovingly recalls her working-class upbringing. Yet she has also admitted that the rural rough-and-tumble surroundings made her early years "a daily scramble for... Read More →
Steven Pinker is often hailed for his ability to use wit and pop culture to make arcane concepts of language and psychology accessible for non-academics. He is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has also taught at Stanford and... Read More →
Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. He is the author of fourteen books translated into twenty languages, the writer-presenter of forty television films for the BBC, PBS and the History Channel, and a Contributing Editor of the Financial... Read More →