We are delighted to announce Big Other‘s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Awardees!
The award honors exemplary living writers, who have made a significant contribution to literature and are continuing to shape and direct the conversation about literary art, about language, form, structure, style, and more.
Championing authors at the height of their careers is part of the Big Other’s longstanding efforts to celebrate literary art; promote innovation, creativity, diversity, and inclusivity; and engage and inspire more discerning readers.
These writers will be honored at the 2021 Big Other Book Awards Ceremony (date to be announced).
Here are our Honorees for 2021:
Gayl Jones was born in Kentucky in 1949. She attended Connecticut College and Brown University; she has taught at Wellesley and the University of Michigan. Her books include Corregidora, Eva’s Man, Song for Anninho, The Healing, Palmares, and Liberating Voices: Oral Tradition in African American Literature.
“Jones,” Imani Perry writes, “is one of the most versatile and transformative writers of the 20th century,” moreover, “a prolific writer whose work is grounded in Black American language and community, as well as a diligent study of the Americas.”
Ishmael Reed is the author of over twenty-five books including Mumbo Jumbo, The Last Days of Louisiana Red, The Free-Lance Pallbearers, and Juice!. He is also a publisher, television producer, songwriter, radio and television commentator, lecturer, and has long been devoted to exploring an alternative black aesthetic: the trickster tradition, or “Neo-Hoodooism” as he calls it. Founder of the Before Columbus Foundation, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley for over thirty years, retiring in 2005. In 2003, he received the coveted Otto Award for political theater.
Leslie Marmon Silko
Leslie Marmon Silko, a former professor of English and fiction writing, is the author of novels, short stories, essays, poetry, articles, and screenplays. Her books include Ceremony, Almanac of the Dead, Storyteller, and Gardens in the Dunes. She has won numerous awards and fellowships for her work. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is a Kenyan author, formerly working in English and now working in Gikuyu. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, essays and scholarship, criticism, and children’s literature. His books include Wizard of the Crow, In the House of the Interpreter, Dreams in a Time of War, Petals of Blood, Devil on the Cross, and Weep Not, Child. He is the founder and editor of the Gikuyu-language journal, Mutiiri. Ngugi went into exile following his release from a Kenyan prison in 1977; living in the United States, he taught at Yale University for some years, and has since also taught at New York University, with a dual professorship in Comparative Literature and Performance Studies, and the University of California, Irvine.
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.