Skip to Main Content

Jesmyn Ward, Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Winner

On June 30, 2022, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Jesmyn Ward as the recipient of the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. Learn more about Ward and her activities at the Library of Congress through this guide.


Jesmyn Ward, 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Winner. Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan.

On June 30, 2022, the Library of Congress announced the awarding of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction to Jesmyn Ward. At 45, Ward is the youngest person to receive the Library's fiction award for her lifetime of work. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden offered the following remarks on Ward's award:

Jesmyn Ward’s literary vision continues to become more expansive and piercing, addressing urgent questions about racism and social injustice being voiced by Americans. Jesmyn's writing is precise yet magical, and I am pleased to recognize her contributions to literature with this prize.

The virtual prize ceremony will take place at the 2022 National Book Festival on September 3 in Washington, D.C. Check back to view a recording of the event.

About the Prize

Since 2008, the Library of Congress has awarded a prize to distinguished writers of fiction. The Library of Congress Lifetime Achievement Award for the Writing of Fiction was created to honor a career dedicated to the literary arts. This award was first presented to Herman Wouk on Sept. 10, 2008. This inaugural award has inspired subsequent Library of Congress fiction awards, given in connection with the Library’s annual National Book Festival.

From 2009 to 2012, the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for fiction was presented to John Grisham, Isabel Allende, Toni Morrison and Philip Roth. Beginning in 2013, the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction has been presented to an author for a body of extraordinary work. Recipients have included Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, E.L. Doctorow, Louise Erdrich, Marilynne Robinson, Denis Johnson, E. Annie Proulx, Richard Ford, Colson Whitehead and Joy Williams.

The annual Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction is meant to honor an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that, throughout long, consistently accomplished careers, have told us something about the American experience.