Richard Ford to Receive Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
BY Zoe Contros Kearl, June 3, 2019
Professor Richard Ford, author of Independence Day, the first novel to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during the 2019 Library of Congress National Book Festival on August 31, 2019.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden selected Ford as this year’s winner based on nominations from more than 60 distinguished literary figures, including former winners of the prize, acclaimed authors and literary critics from around the world. The prize ceremony will take place during the National Book Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
“The good fortune of being given this prize – even apart from its private encouragement – is to be allowed to participate in what I’ve always taken to be the Library's great achievement: to encourage literacy, to advocate for the primacy of the literary arts and to draw closer to the needs of readers,” Ford said. “The Library of Congress' Prize for American Fiction makes me feel – accurately or not – what most novelists would like to feel, which is useful to our country's conversation with the world.”
One of the Library’s most prestigious awards, the annual Prize for American Fiction honors an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that – throughout long, consistently accomplished careers – have told us something essential about the American experience.
Ford earned degrees from Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine, where he studied under 2014 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction winner E.L. Doctorow. Ford’s seven novels include The Sportswriter, the first of the Bascombe Trilogy, and Canada, winner of the Prix Femina étranger. He has also published three short story collections, as well as the New York Times bestselling novella collection Let Me Be Frank with You and a memoir, Between Them: Remembering My Parents.
Ford’s honors include the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction, the Siegfried Lenz Prize, the Premio la Lettura, the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for fiction and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Ford is the Mellon Professor and Emmanuel Roman and Barrie Sardoff Roman Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.