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Anisfield-Wolf book award winners announced

The winners of the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf awards were announced Wednesday with prizes of $10,000 each. Since 1935, the Anisfield-Wolf awards have been presented to books and authors who confront racism and explore diversity.

The Lifetime Achievement award will be shared by Wilson Harris and George Lamming, who will  split the $10,000 prize. Harris, who turned 93 this week, was born in Guyana and now lives in England. He has published more than two dozen novels. Lamming was born in Barbados and was a novelist and cultural critic who lived abroad for many years; his teaching appointments included a stint at Brown University. Now 86, he currently lives in Barbados.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. chaired the jury. "The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf winners are exemplars who broaden our vision of race and diversity," Gates said in a statement. "This year, there is exceptional writing about the moral complexity of Israel, a transporting first novel set in war-torn Chechnya and a collection of poems on the myth and unapologetic masculinity of the first African-American heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson."

That poetry collection is “The Big Smoke” by Adrian Matejka, which shares the fiction award with "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra, the debut novel set in Chechnya. 

Ari Shavit takes the nonfiction award for "My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel" which he wrote simultaneously in English and Hebrew. Shavit is a columnist for Haaretz, Jerusalem’s daily newspaper.

Previous winners of the Anisfield-Wolf awards include Alan Paton, Zora Neale Hurston, Louis Adamic, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison and Richard Rodriguez.

The awards will be presented in Cleveland on Sept. 11.

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