Winners of the Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Announced

The Library of Virginia has announced the winners of the 22nd Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. The awards celebration was hosted by best-selling author and award-winning filmmaker Adriana Trigiani. Awards categories were nonfiction, fiction, and poetry; People’s Choice Awards for fiction and nonfiction; and Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award. Winners in each category received a monetary prize and an engraved crystal book.  

The winner of the 2019 Literary Award for Nonfiction was Catherine Kerrison for her book Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America, which “illuminates women’s experiences in early America through the lives of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters—Martha and Maria, his children by his wife, and Harriet Hemings, born of his relationship with his slave Sally Hemings,” according to the judges.  

Jon Pineda won the 2019 Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction for his book Let’s No One Get Hurt, described by the judges as a “lyrical and powerful coming-of-age novel exploring loss, abandonment, and how we fashion new versions of self when forced to.” 

Michael Chitwood and the late Claudia Emerson tied for the Poetry Award prize this year. 

Chitwood’s book Search & Rescue was praised by the judges for seeing “familiar subjects in fresh ways through clear diction and rich imagery that sounds just right to the ear and the mind.”  Claudia Emerson’s book Claude Before Time and Space, “displays the final work of a master poet at the height of her craft,” according to the judges. 

The winners of the People’s Choice Awards are Tony’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani in the fiction category and Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy in the nonfiction category. Winners were chosen by online voting.  

The Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award went to Mary Gabriel for her book, Ninth Street Women: LeeKrasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler – Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art, which tells the inspiring story of the power of art and artists in shaping not just post war America, but the future as well. Presented by the Library and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Art in Literature Award recognizes an outstanding book published in the previous year that is written primarily in response to a work (or works) of art while also showing the highest literary quality as a creative or scholarly work. This unique award, established in 2013, is named in honor of Mary Lynn Kotz, author of the award-winning biography Rauschenberg: Art and Life.

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