This annual prize, awarded separately for fiction and nonfiction, recognizes recently published works “embodying the spirit of the nation’s heartland.” The prizes are part of the Chicago Tribune’s ongoing dedication to reading, writing, and ideas.
Fiction: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Beginning with his 2001 novel, The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has been celebrated as one of the most perceptive and talented chroniclers of contemporary American life. In Freedom, Franzen delves into the heart of one complicated Minnesota family. Walter and Patty Berglund’s middle-aged growing pains—the messiness of love found and lost, roads taken and not—is, in the words of one critic, an “indelible portrait of our times” and earned him a nomination for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. The winner of the National Book Award and James Tait Black Memorial Prize in fiction for The Corrections, Franzen is also the author of The Discomfort Zone (memoir), How to Be Alone (essays), and the novels Strong Motion and The Twenty-Seventh City.
Nonfiction: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
A cultural history 20 years in the making, The Warmth of Other Suns is a powerful exploration of the great migration of African-Americans from the South across the United States. Inspired in part by her parents’ history and drawing on interviews with more than 1,200 people, Isabel Wilkerson provides rare and tremendous insight into the communities created by these migratory moves. She shares stories at once poignant, unsettling, and sometimes surprising and illuminates in new ways the African-American experience in this country. Wilkerson, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism, is also the recipient of the George Polk Award for her coverage of the Midwest and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration. She is currently professor of journalism and director of narrative nonfiction at Boston University. The Warmth of Other Suns is her first book. It has won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2011 Hillman Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, and the Mark Lynton History Prize.
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The 2011 programs at the UIC Forum are sponsored in part by the Chicago Community Trust.