Joy Williams, Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Winner
On June 30, 2021, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Joy Williams as the recipient of the 2021 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. Learn more about Williams and her activities at the Library of Congress through this guide.
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Ava Kaplan, Junior Fellow, Literary Initiatives
Peter Armenti, Reference Specialist, Researcher and Reference Services Division
Created: May 27, 2022
Last Updated: June 3, 2022
On June 30, 2021, the Library of Congress announced the awarding of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction to Joy Williams. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden offered the following remarks on Williams' award:
I am pleased and honored to confer this prize on Joy Williams, in celebration of her almost half-century of extraordinary work. Her work reveals the strange and unsettling grace just beneath the surface of our lives. In a story, a moment, a single sentence, it can force us to reimagine how we see ourselves, how we understand each other — and how we relate to the natural world.
Joy Williams received the 2021 Prize for American Fiction from the Librarian of Congress during the 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival on September 17, 2021. [View recording of award announcement.]
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 and Colson Whitehead.
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.