Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’ masterful novel The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois, has been awarded the National Book Critics Circle’s Fiction Prize for 2021.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois has been awarded the National Book Critics Circle’s 2021 Fiction Prize. Announced online this year out of concern for coronavirus, the awards are presented each year in six categories for the finest books published in English. This year’s nominees for the Fiction Award included works from Rachel Cusk, Sarah Hall and Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead.
Novel described as “illuminating” by judges.
Speaking during the live broadcast, Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari described Jeffers’ novel as “illuminating, emotionally resonant and profound”. In accepting the award, an emotional Fanonne thanked the Critics Circle’s voting members and judges, before going on to give praise to her Creator and ancestors.
“I’d like to acknowledge that – like the red clay of my childhood summers in Georgia – Oklahoma, my now home, rests on land stolen from the original, and still living and thriving, indigenous occupants of this country. I wrote this book for black women of mingled ancestral lines, and I’d like to thank the cherished Georgia women of my maternal lines.”
The book delves into the history of an African-American family in the American South from before the American Civil War through to the present. Speaking of the novel, Jeffers called it ‘personal’, explaining that Du Bois – a Black socialist and civil rights activist from the late 1800s – really loved Black Southerners.
“They had a special place in his heart. As a Black Southerner, I’m also part of a community that he imagined and that he tried to save. That’s why they’re the love songs – because these are the people whom he loved.”
Take a peek at the awards ceremony below:
National Book Critics Circle 2022 Award Winners:
- The Love Songs of W.E.B DuBois (Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Fourth Estate)
- How the Word Is Passed: A reckoning with the history of slavery across America (Clint Smith, Dialogue Books)
- Gay Bar: Why we went out (Jeremy Atherton Lin, Granta)
- All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The true story of the woman at the heart of the German resistance to Hitler (Rebecca Donner, Canongate)
- Girlhood (Melissa Febos, Bloomsbury)
- frank: sonnets (Diane Seuss, Graywolf)