Via press release on March 30, 2016, Acting Librarian of Congress (LOC), David S. Mao, announced that novelist Marilynne Robinson will be the recipient of the 2016 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The prize is awarded as part of the LOC National Book Festival, September 24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
The purpose of the annual Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction is 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 new about the American experience,” according to the release.
Mao said of the selection, “With the depth and resonance of her novels, Marilynne Robinson captures the American soul. We are proud to confer this prize on her and her extraordinary work.”
About her upcoming prize, the author of “Housekeeping,” “Home,” “Gilead” and other works commented, “American literature has been a kind of spiritual home to me for as long as I have been aware of it. So this award could not be more gratifying.”
Previous winners of the prize include: Louise Erdrich (2015), E. L. Doctorow (2014) and Don DeLillo (2013). Under its previous name, the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for fiction, the awardees were Philip Roth (2012), Toni Morrison (2011), Isabel Allende (2010), and John Grisham (2009). In 2008, the Library presented Pulitzer-Prize winner Herman Wouk with a lifetime achievement award for fiction writing.
Robinson and her work have received many accolades, including but not limited to the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Fund. She also received the National Humanities Medal.
Robinson, who teaches at the famed Creative Writing Workshop at the University of Iowa, was recently featured in “The New York Review of Books’ for being interviewed by, and having a conversation with, President Barack Obama. The two discussed her work, democracy, and several other subjects in a two-part series.
According to the Library of Congress, the library is the largest such institution in the world with over 162 million items in various “languages, disciplines and formats.” The Library serves not only the U.S. Congress but the nation as a whole both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its website.