Last Sunday, the 44th Annual American Book Awards were presented at the Koret Library in San Francisco, with Maxine Hong Kingston, Darryl Pinckney, and the late bell hooks among the recipients.
Administered by the Before Columbus Foundation, which prides itself on not accepting any corporate funding, the awards were established in 1978 “to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.”
As the Columbus Foundation website details:
The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.
Among this year’s recipients were Edgar Gomez (High Risk Homosexual), Jamil Jan Kochai (The Haunting of Haji Hotak and Other Stories), Darryl Pinckney (Come Back in September), and Leila Mottley (Nightcrawling).
Maxine Hong Kingston received the Lifetime Achievement Award, while the activist and writer bell hooks, who died in 2021 at the age of 69, was honored with the Walter and Lillian Lowenfels Award for Criticism.
You can see a full list of this year’s recipients here.