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NEW YORK (AP) — Author, playwright and longtime champion of multiculturalism Ishmael Reed is receiving a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to literature.
Reed is among this year’s winners of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, given for work that “confronts racism and explores diversity,” the Cleveland Foundation announced Tuesday.
Percival Everett’s novel “The Trees” won for fiction and Donika Kelly’s “The Renunciations” was cited for poetry.
Prizes for nonfiction were given to George Makari’s “Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia” and Tiya Miles’ “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake.”
Lifetime achievement award, honoring Ishmael Reed and others through the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
“This year, we honor a satiric novel about lynching disguised as a detective story, a poetry collection that remakes the meanings of childhood abuse, an innovative look at the idea of xenophobia, and a story of recovered history based on an embroidered sack,” jury chair Henry Louis Gates Jr. said in a statement. “All is capped by the lifetime achievement of Ishmael Reed, a genre-bending and genre-transcending colossus of literature.”
Philanthropist Edith Anisfield Wolf founded the prize in 1935.
Previous winners include the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Toni Morrison and Nadine Gordimer.
Notably, in 2019, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison passed away at 88. She was a pioneer and reigning giant of modern literature whose imaginative power in “Beloved,” ?Song of Solomon” and other works transformed American letters by dramatizing the pursuit of freedom within the boundaries of race.
In today’s political climate, works such as hers have been banned by conservative politicians eager to appease their base of voters. It remains to be seen how future generations will react to the work of Ishmael Reed, however, he’s received his flowers regardless.