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Anisfield-Wolf Award Winners Confront Racism

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The winners of the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards have been announced. While not as well known as the Pulitzers or the National Book Awards, the Cleveland-based Anisfield-Wolf prize is among the most prestigious in the literary world. ideastream's David C. Barnett has more on this year's recipients

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 8:00 am

In 1935, Cleveland poet and philanthropist Edith Anisfield-Wolf established the book award that bears her name, honoring literature that explores --- and often confronts --- issues of racism and diversity. This year's awardees are a diverse group themselves, ranging from Anthony Marra for his debut novel about war-torn Chechnya, to a lifetime of work from 93-year-old Sir Wilson Harris.

WILSON HARRIS: Some oppression is subtle, some oppression is dominant --- it takes various forms.

Over the course of some 25 novels, Harris has used an abstract writing style to take apart the way we define oppression. He says it's not always easy to discern the good guys from the bad.

WILSON HARRIS: There's a mystery to freedom, there's a mystery to truth, there's a mystery to knowledge. And one has to pursue this all the time with an awareness that what one is getting at, cannot be absolutely defined.

Barbados writer, George Lamming, with also be honored with a Lifetime Achievement award for his writings on the impact of colonization on the Caribbean. The other Anisfield-Wolf winners, this year, include Adrian Matejka for his poem about African American Heavyweight champ, Jack Johnson, and Jerusalem-based writer Ari Shavit, for his non-fiction chronicle, "My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel". All recipients will get their awards in a Cleveland ceremony, this September.

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