Colson Whitehead was announced the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction 2020 recipient on July 13, 2020.
The Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction honours 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. The award, started in 2008 as the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award, seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that have told us something essential about the American experience. Previous winners have been John Grisham, Isabel Allende, Toni Morrison, and Philip Roth.
This year’s winner of the award is Colson Whitehead who, at 50, is the youngest person to receive the Library’s fiction award for his lifetime of work. His selection was 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.
“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 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.”
The prize ceremony will take place online during the United States’ National Book Festival on September 25-27.