To coincide with the Library of Congress National Book Festival scheduled for September 21-22, the Library of Congress will award author Don DeLillo the first Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The announcement on LOC.gov explains the award “is meant to honor an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but 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.”
Though this is the first award for American fiction the LOC has given, the Library has honored fiction writers in the past. In 2008, Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk received a lifetime achievement award while John Grisham (in 2009), Isabel Allende (2010), Toni Morrison (2011) and Philip Roth (2012) have each won the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for fiction in connection with the Library’s annual National Book Festival.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said of DeLillo, “Like Dostoyevsky, Don DeLillo probes deeply into the sociopolitical and moral life of his country.” DeLillo is the author of Underworld, Mao II, and White Noise for which he won the National Book Award in 1985.
The announcement quotes DeLillo as saying: “When I received news of this award, my first thoughts were of my mother and father, who came to this country the hard way, as young people confronting a new language and culture… In a significant sense, the Library of Congress prize is the culmination of their efforts and a tribute to their memory.”