Undergraduate Writing Alumna Morgan Parker '10 Wins National Book Critic Award

BY Audrey Deng, March 20, 2020

Undergraduate Writing Alumna Morgan Parker ’10 recently won the National Book Critic Circle Award in poetry with her book Magical Negro, published in February 2019.

The National Book Critic Circle Award celebrates works of literature published in the previous year. The judges’ board is comprised of well-renowned book critics across the country.

Magical Negro is a sublime rendering of the black experience in the written word. Publisher Weekly notes the book’s power: “Parker writes of the black experience not as an antidote or opposite to whiteness, but a culture and community where irreplicable nuances are created in spite of, not because of, pain and trauma. Blackness cannot be bought or sold; it’s an inheritance.” The Los Angeles Times also reports that “the Los Angeles-based Parker has won a Pushcart Prize and plenty of raves for past collections of verse, much of which deals with the African American experience.”

“Morgan Parker’s effortless versatility with language in Magical Negro is a wondrous and immersive experience,” judge Hope Wabuke writes on the National Book Critic Circle’s site. “Here is a poet who reminds us of what language can be — innovative and truthful in its rhythmic constructs of meaning.”

The list of seven winning authors had written books leaning toward the topical and “addressed urgent issues ranging from immigration to sectarian strife, race and natural disaster.” writes the LA Times. During this time, the Times offers these books as binge-reading in their article “National Book Critics Circle announces awards just in time for shut-in binge-reading.”

Publishers Weekly also points out that “Notable this year is that, of the seven awards, four were awarded to black women authors.”

Back in January, also named as a finalist was alumna Jessica Hindman '09 (CC '03) for her autobiography Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir.

Unfortunately, due to current safe practices of social distancing, the Manhattan ceremony during which National Book Critic Circle’s winners normally would have been announced was canceled. This year’s honors were announced through a press release. However, the annual gala reception is rescheduled for September.