The American Academy of Arts and Letters have announced the names of 19 writers who will receive the 2017 awards in literature, which will be presented in New York at the Academy’s annual ceremony in May. The literature prizes, totaling $265,000, honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry.
Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, who is currently making her Broadway debut with the critically acclaimed Sweat, will receive the Award of Merit Medal, honoring an outstanding playwright for her body of work. Nottage, who also received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize last year, is the first writer of color and the second woman to receive the award, which is given to a playwright every six years and includes a $25,000 prize. Previous winners include Romulus Linney, John Guare, Horton Foote, Sam Shepard, Sidney Kingsley, Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, Maxwell Anderson, Robert E. Sherwood, William Gillette, Eugene O'Neill, and Augustus Thomas.
The eight recipients of the Arts and Letters Award in Literature, which includes a prize of $10,000 and honors exceptional accomplishment in any genre, are Ayad Akhtar, Chris Bachelder, Paul Beatty, Kathleen Graber, Jennifer Haigh, Dominique Morisseau, Richard Sieburth, and Luis Alberto Urrea.
The Academy’s 250 members propose candidates and a rotating committee of writers selects winners. This year’s award committee members were Chairman John Guare, Thomas McGuane, Anne Tyler, Rosanna Warren, and Joy Williams.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters was established in 1898 to “foster, assist, and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts.”