Jesmyn Ward, a professor of creative writing in the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University in New Orleans, has been announced as the recipient of the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She will be honored at the Library of Congress National Book Festival on September 3 in Washington, D.C. At 45, Professor Ward will be the youngest person to receive the library’s fiction award.
The annual Prize for American Fiction, one of the library’s most prestigious awards, 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 consistently accomplished careers — have told readers something essential about the American experience.
“Jesmyn Ward’s literary vision continues to become more expansive and piercing, addressing urgent questions about racism and social injustice being voiced by Americans,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Jesmyn’s writing is precise yet magical, and I am pleased to recognize her contributions to literature with this prize.”
Professor Ward is one of only six writers to receive the National Book Award more than once and the only woman and Black American to do so. She won the National Book Award in 2011 for her novel Salvage the Bones. She won again in 2017 for her book Sing, Unburied Sing.
Before joining the faculty at Tulane University in 2014, Ward was an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. Professor Ward was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University during the 2010-11 academic year and she has served as the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her debut novel, published in 2008, was Where the Line Bleeds. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Michigan.