Prominent voice and living literary legacy Maya Angelou is receiving recognition for her contributions to the literary community as this year’s recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award at the 64th National Book Awards Ceremony, the National Book Foundation.
85-year-old Angelou, who has been celebrated everywhere from the Grammy Awards to the White House. She has received three Grammys for best spoken word album, a National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.
“Dr. Angelou’s body of work transcends the words on the page,” the book foundation’s executive director, Harold Augenbraum, said in a statement. “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.”
Many know her by one of her earlier autobiographical works “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” a groundbreaking autobiography that opened new literary avenues for the American memoir. Angelou’s numerous writings explore subjects such as identity, rape, racism, literacy, the importance of family, and the quest for independence.
A well deserved award for Maya Angelou. This year’s ceremony marks the ninth year the Foundation has presented the Literarian Award, which was established in 2005 to recognize an individual whose work has enhanced the literary world during a lifetime of service. Previous recipients include Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein, Terry Gross, Barney Rosset, Dave Eggers, Joan Ganz Cooney, and Mitchell Kaplan.
Nominations for these awards are made by former National Book Award Winners, Finalists, and Judges, as well as other writers and literary professionals from around the country. Final selections are made by the National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors.
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