Acclaimed Writer Margaret Atwood Receives 2017 St. Louis Literary Award


Previous recipients of the Saint Louis University Library Associates’ annual award include Tennessee Williams,

 Joan Didion and August Wilson

Margaret Atwood at the 2017 St. Louis Literary Award (photography by Charles L. Barnes)

An overflow audience welcomed Margaret Atwood to the Sheldon Concert Hall on September 19 for the 50th anniversary of the St. Louis Literary Award. Guests gathered after the award ceremony for a private reception in Ms. Atwood’s honor. A special broadcast on Channel 9 on Monday, October 9 at 9 pm will include parts of the award ceremony and an exclusive interview with Margaret Atwood.

Ms. Atwood receives the St. Louis Literary Award from Ted Ibur, Chair of the Selection Committee, and Lana Pepper, President of the SLU Library Associates.

The St. Louis Literary Award, which has been conferred annually by the Saint Louis University Library Associates, has become one of the nation’s premiere literary prizes, recognizing writers who express humane values in their work.

Ms. Atwood addressed the urgent issues of our time in her acceptance speech, noting the recent social upheavals in St. Louis and the enduring power of the lens of literature to help make sense of them.

“Every country has police. They are supposed to serve, protect, arrest potential, but not proven, criminals, and turn them over to the justice system for trial. That’s a hard job with a lot of pressure,” Atwood said. “But a country in which the police act as judge, jury and executioner is a police state.”

In a career spanning more than fifty years, Margaret Atwood has demonstrated a remarkable literary range in moving seamlessly from genre to genre. Atwood is best known for her works of fiction, including The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye, and Oryx and Crake.

The Handmaid’s Tale, adapted for television as a series on Hulu, recently garnered 4 Emmy Awards, including outstanding dramatic series. An adaption of her work Alias Grace will premiere on Netflix on November 3. Atwood’s most recent novel, Hag-Seed, a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, will be adapted for stage in an upcoming production by the Prison Performing Arts program in St. Louis.

Atwood has written numerous books of poetry, including The Journals of Susanna Moodie, The Circle Game, The Door, and several volumes of selected poems. Atwood’s nonfiction works include Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing and Moving Targets: Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose 1983-2005.

Born in Ottawa, Margaret Atwood is a native of Toronto and has received significant honors over her long career, including the Booker Prize, Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year, Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction, the PEN Pinter Award, and the Canadian Booksellers’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

With its fifty-year list of illustrious winners, the St. Louis Literary Award has become one of the most prestigious literary awards in the country. Lana Pepper, President of the Board of the Library Associates, observed, “The St. Louis Literary Award is an important civic asset which makes a substantial contribution each year to the cultural and artistic life of St. Louis. The award recognizes writers who have deepened our insights into the essential human condition in ways that only great literature can.”

Ms. Atwood with reception guest Katie Cushwa.

Tarrell Campbell, who received the 2017 Walter J. Ong, SJ Award for outstanding graduate student in the department of English, with his wife and Margaret Atwood.

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