The Los Angeles Times announced today that Library of America has been selected to receive the 2019 Innovator’s Award, given by the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. Since 1980, the Los Angeles Times has awarded a set of annual Book Prizes that include the Innovator’s Award, which recognizes the people and institutions that bring books, publishing, journalism, ideas and storytelling into the future. LOA joins such recent recipients as Margaret Atwood, John Green, Dave Eggers, LeVar Burton, Powell’s Bookstore, and Glory Edim of Well-Read Black Girl, among others.
In announcing the award, the award program’s director, critic Kenneth Turan, praised Library of America “for the invaluable work it has done over nearly four decades to preserve our nation’s rich written heritage by showcasing literature in all its forms from classics to lesser-known texts; poetry, fiction and memoir to journalism and speeches; crime writing and science fiction to children’s literature, music and dance writings, and so much more.” Turan added that Library of America’s “distinctive black volumes are a sure signal to readers that they are getting the very best.”
Library of America president and publisher Max Rudin will accept the award at a ceremony in Los Angeles on April 12. The awards ceremony is a lead-in to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, billed as “the nation’s largest literary and cultural festival,” which will be held at the University of Southern California April 13–14 .
Acknowledging the Innovator’s Award, Rudin said, “In 1979 the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation helped launch a somewhat unlikely new venture, a nonprofit publisher and cultural institution dedicated to publishing authoritative new volumes of great American writers—and to keeping the American literary tradition vital in the culture for readers and writers to discover, and rediscover. Forty years and over ten million books later, we are honored to accept this award on behalf of the loyal friends and gifted colleagues we’ve been privileged to know and work with.”
Among other honorees this year, Terry Tempest Williams will receive the 2018 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, given in recognition of a writer whose work focuses on the American West. In a serendipitous coincidence, Williams is also co-editor of the forthcoming (2020) Library of America anthology American Birds: A Literary Companion.
The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes recognize fifty-one works in eleven categories. Click here for a complete list of 2019 finalists and further information, including past winners.