Kevin Powers’s “The Yellow Birds” among Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards winners

April 22, 2013

Kevin Powers, a 32-year-old Iraq War vet, has won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his celebrated debut novel, “The Yellow Birds” (Little, Brown). He is one of several winners announced this morning for the $10,000 prize, which recognizes fiction, poetry and nonfiction that has “made an important contribution to society’s understanding of racism and the diversity of cultures.”

The other winners of the Anisfield-Wolf award are:

  • Laird Hunt, Kind One (Coffee House), a novel about two Kentucky slaves who take their white owner into captivity.
  • Eugene Gloria, My Favorite Warlord (Penguin), a collection of poetry about “Filipino heritage, samurai, fathers, masculinity and memory.”
  • Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree (Scribner), a nonfiction study of parents and their children with serious medical problems or unusual conditions.

Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, 78, was also named the recipient of the organization’s annual lifetime achievement award. Well known for his poetry and plays, he was imprisoned in 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War. He now teaches at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize was established in 1935 by a Cleveland poet named Edith Anisfield Wolf. The Cleveland Foundation, a philanthropic organization with almost $2 billion in assets, has administered the Anisfield-Wolf prize since 1963. The jury is chaired by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who directs the Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. The jury also includes Rita Dove, Joyce Carol Oates, Steven Pinker and Simon Schama.

The winners will be honored on Sept. 12 at a ceremony in Cleveland.

Twitter @RonCharles

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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