E.L. Doctorow and Maya Angelou to Receive Major Honors from the National Book Foundation

September 13, 2013

The National Book Foundation will present novelist E.L. Doctorow with the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and Maya Angelou the 2013 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. The awards will be given during the 64th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 20, 2013. Harold Augenbraum, National Book Foundation Executive Director, said, “We are privileged this year to recognize two outstanding figures in the world of literature in honoring E.L. Doctorow and Dr. Maya Angelou. Doctorow is a master of historical fiction who has brought the events of the past to people all over the world in an extraordinary fashion. It is also a special opportunity to give tribute to a native New Yorker in his hometown. Dr. Angelou's body of work transcends the words on the page. She has been on the front lines of history and the fight for social justice and decade after decade remains a symbol of the redemptive power of literature in the contemporary world.”

Edgar Lawrence Doctorow, named after Edgar Allen Poe, was born in 1931 and raised in the Bronx, New York. Over the past fifty years his novels, short stories, essays, and playwriting have been published in over thirty languages. His awards include three National Book Critics Circle Awards, the National Book Award, two PEN/Faulkner awards, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the National Humanities Medal conferred by President Clinton in 1998. He is the twenty-sixth recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Past awardees include John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Tony Morrison, and Tom Wolfe.

Dr. Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Johnson in 1928 in Missouri and raised in Arkansas, rose to international distinction with her autobiographical work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, first published in 1969. For President Clinton’s 1992 inauguration, she was the first African American woman and second poet in history to write and perform at poem at a U.S. Presidential inauguration. Angelou has received over thirty honorary degrees, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest civilian honor) from President Obama, and induction to the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame for Writers. The Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation is in its ninth year. Previous recipients include Dave Eggers, Joan Ganz Cooney, and Terry Gross.

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