Nominees Announced for $50,000 “American Nobel”

July 21, 2019
by WLT
The nine finalists for the 2020 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, arranged in a nine panel grid
From left to right: Top: Emmanuel Carrère, Jorie Graham, Jessica Hagedorn. Middle: Eduardo Halfón, Ismail Kadare, Sahar Khalifeh. Bottom: Abdellatif Laâbi, Lee Maracle, Hoa Nguyen.

World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning magazine of international literature and culture, has announced finalists for the 2020 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. This prestigious prize recognizes significant contributions to world literature and has a history as a lead-up to the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The nominees (with representative texts noted) for the 2020 Neustadt Prize, which carries a $50,000 cash award, are as follows:

Emmanuel Carrère (France), The Adversary

Jorie Graham (United States), Fast

Jessica Hagedorn (Philippines / United States), Dogeaters

Eduardo Halfón (Guatemala), Mourning

Ismail Kadare (Albania), Broken April

Sahar Khalifeh (Palestine), Wild Thorns

Abdellatif Laâbi (Morocco), Beyond the Barbed Wire

Lee Maracle (Canada), Celia’s Song

Hoa Nguyen (Vietnam / United States / Canada), Red Juice

Nine Neustadt jurors, all creative writers, chose the finalists, and they will meet to choose the winner at the 2019 Neustadt Lit Fest, scheduled for Oct. 15-17, hosted by World Literature Today and the University of Oklahoma. The winner will be announced on Oct. 16.

“It is exciting to have such an esteemed group of writers vying for the Neustadt Prize,” shared Robert Con Davis-Undiano, executive director of World Literature Today, the prize sponsor. “Literature is a powerful voice that teaches us about the world beyond ourselves. This truly international slate of finalists demonstrates once again that excellent literature knows no borders.”

The winner announcement will be made on Wednesday, Oct. 16, during the Neustadt Lit Fest, which this year also honors Margarita Engle, laureate of the 2019 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. Engle is a Cuban American author and was the Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2019. Festival events are free and open to the public.

The Neustadt Prize is the first international literary award of this scope to originate in the United States and is one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists, screenwriters and playwrights are equally eligible. Since 2003, it has been awarded every other year, alternating with the NSK Prize, to a living writer in recognition of a significant body of work. Past winners include Nobel Prize recipients Czesław Miłosz, Gabriel García Márquez and Tomas Tranströmer. The 2018 Neustadt Prize winner was Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat.

Winners of the Neustadt Prize are awarded $50,000, a silver replica of an eagle feather, a prize certificate and a festival hosted in their honor. A generous endowment from the Neustadt family supports the award.

To learn more about the Neustadt prizes or to see the full calendar of events, visit