Laila Lalami, a creative writing professor and author of several books, is the winner of the 2019 Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize.
She was one of five finalists announced last month, selected from authors nominated by publishers, critics, agents, authors, and other author representatives.
Lalami, who received a $50,000 prize, said she was thrilled to receive the award and honored to be in the company of the other finalists. “This award is a wonderful gift of time, which I will use to work on my next project, a book of nonfiction about the relationship between the citizen and the state, exploring the ways in which it can be undermined by race, gender, and national origin,” she said. “This is a book I have been writing for a while, but it feels especially pressing at this particular moment in American history.”
The Simpson Literary Prize has been awarded annually since 2017 by the Simpson Project, a collaboration of the Laffayette Library and Learning Center Foundation and UC Berkeley’s English Department.
Joseph Di Prisco, chair of the Simpson Literary Project, said Lalami stood out with her “magnificently accomplished works of fiction” as well as her stylish and powerful essays and opinion pieces. “Ms. Lalami brilliantly guides us through the labyrinth of the past, and she illuminates the shadowy stories of our lives here and now, wherever and whoever we are,” he said.
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