Maaza Mengiste Wins 2020 Literature Prize from American Academy of Arts & Letters

Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste is among 19 writers who will receive the 2020 awards in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Photo: CUNY)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: March 12th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Maaza Mengiste has won the 2020 Literature prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Academy announced that Mengiste is among 19 writers who will receive this year’s awards in literature, which will be presented in New York at the organization’s annual Ceremonial in May.

“The literature prizes, totaling $350,000, honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry,” the press release said. “The Academy’s 250 members propose candidates, and a rotating committee of writers selects winners.”

Maaza Mengiste — who is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Shadow King and Beneath the Lion’s Gaze — was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. Maaza is also the “writer for the Ethiopia segment of Girl Rising,” a feature film that tells the stories of 10 extraordinary girls from 10 developing countries around the world. Maaza’s work has likewise appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC Radio, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story, and Lettre International.

“The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers,” the announcement states. The press release added: “The Academy’s 250 members are elected for life and pay no dues. In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country.”

You can read the full list of winners at »


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