Jesmyn Ward was announced the winner of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction on Thursday, June 30, 2022.
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 Colson Whitehead, John Grisham, Isabel Allende, Toni Morrison, and Philip Roth.
The winner for the award for 2022 is Jesmyn Ward the acclaimed 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. Ward is also the editor of the anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden selected Ward 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.
“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 Library of Congress’ Carla Hayden “Jesmyn’s writing is precise yet magical, and I am pleased to recognize her contributions to literature with this prize.”
“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,” Ward said. “This is our calling, and I am grateful for it.”
Ward is one of only six writers to receive the National Book Award more than once and the only woman and Black American to do so. The virtual prize ceremony will take place at the 2022 National Book Festival on Sept. 3 in Washington, D.C.