AAAL Announces 2016 Literature Award Winners

Hayim Oshky reports on the news that the American Academy of Arts and Letters (AAAL) recently announced the winners of its 2016 awards in literature.

Honouring artistic excellence

Established in 1898, the AAAL is a US honour society of 250 writers, artists, architects and poets. The organisation’s overarching purpose, according to its official website, is to “foster and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts by identifying and encouraging individual artists.”

The AAAL encourage individual artists through a number of means, such as funding readings and performances of new works and giving awards to recognise American artist excellence. Every year, the Academy honours more than 50 writers, architects, artists and composers, chosen by committees comprised of its members, with cash awards ranging from $5,000 to $75,000.

2016 award winners

The Reading Room writes that the AAAL has announced the winners of its 2016 literary awards. These honourees, 13 in total, were selected by committee members John Guare, Sharon Olds, Anne Tyler, Rosanna Warren, and Joy Williams. Collectively, they received over $500,000 in cash and will be honoured by the Academy at a New York Awards Ceremony, scheduled to take place in May 2016.

Noted winners include Kirstin Valdez Quade, who has already clinched a National Book Critics Circle Award. Quade won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, a prize for a first work of fiction published in 2015, for her hit work Night at the Fiestas – a collection of unforgettable short stories. Meanwhile Branden Jacobs-Jenkins received the prestigious Benjamin H Danks Award, a $20,000 prize for exceptional young playwrights only given once every three years.

Other winners

Anthony Mara was recognised for his bestselling work The Tsar of Love and Techno. He received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, a prize given to a young writer of considerable literary talent for a work published in 2015. Emerging talents Adam Haslett and Jesmyn Ward were given the Mildred and Harold Strauss Livings Awards. These provide $20,000 apiece to two aspiring writers to enable them to devote time exclusively to writing.

Other winners included Rachel Kushner, who was honoured with the $20,000 Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award. This gong lauds a writer whose work merits recognition for the quality of its prose style. Also, Jamey Gambrell received the Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation. Considering the fact that industry experts believe that embracing diversity is the future of publishing, it is important to honour those who excel in the field of translation.

Writers to watch

The above mentioned writers are definitely ones to watch in 2016. From Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain to Harper Lee and John Steinbeck, American writers have played a large part in shaping modern literature. It is exciting to see who the AAAL believed deserved to be honoured with its 2016 literary awards. Their opinions can clue readers into which US writers they may wish to follow this year, as they keep provide us with compelling literature.

Thank you for reading… Hayim Oshky.

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