Jesmyn Ward Makes History as First Black Writer, Woman to Hold Two National Book Awards for Fiction

The Mississippi pundit made history, twofold, at the National Book Awards this week.

Jesmyn Ward Makes History as First Black Woman to Win Two National Book Awards for FictionEvan Agostini/Invision/AP

History was made this week (November 15) when National Book Awards chair Jacqueline Woodson bestowed the year’s coveted award for Fiction to Jesmyn Ward at the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony for her southern odyssey, Sing, Unburied, Sing, making her the only Black writer to receive the honor twice in the category.

Not to mention, Ward beams as the only woman on a scarce list of male recipients to share such a feat. Among the repeat NBA winners in the genre include Philip Roth, John Updike and fellow Mississippian and one of Ward’s personal favorites, William Faulker, whose collected stories earned him the prize in 1951, then again with A Fable, just four years after.

If you can recall, in 2011, Ward brought home the NBA for Fiction for her Hurricane Katrina chronicle Salvage the Bones, which was partly based on Ward’s first-hand brush with the great storm that swept through her native Mississippi in 2005.

Listen to Jesmyn Ward reflect on survival since Katrina

I am so happy to have this book on my mantel, and even more so that it took home the award as I anticipated from the beginning.

You can watch and witness the moment, below. (Skip ahead to 2:28:00)

Congratulations again, Jesmyn!!!

We’re all beaming at you,


a proud Wardian.

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the authorParis Close
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