Announcing the winners of the 85th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Graphic of authors and cover art from their books

Each spring, we celebrate a new class of writers joining the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards canon. This year, in the midst of a global pandemic, the announcement has moved online while the works being honored take on a new kind of importance. “The new books explore human diversity in riveting style, putting the lie to racism and ableism,” said Karen R. Long, manager of the book awards at the Cleveland Foundation. “Reading them knits us closer together in times when we must be apart.”

Please join us in celebrating this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards winners:

“The new Anisfield-Wolf winners bring us fresh insights on race and diversity,” said Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., who chairs the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards jury. “This year, we honor a brilliant, breakout novel that centers Zambia, a book of political poetry 15 years in the making and a riveting history documenting a revolution in Western thought. All is capped by the lifetime achievement of Eric Foner, who has remade our understanding of the Civil War and especially its aftermath.”

Jury Chair Gates, who is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, joins poet Rita Dove, novelist Joyce Carol Oates, psychologist Steven Pinker and historian Simon Schama to select the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards winners each year.

This year’s winners will be honored on October 1 in the Connor Palace Theatre in Cleveland, hosted by the Cleveland Foundation and emceed by Jury Chair Gates. The ceremony will be part of the fifth annual Cleveland Book Week, slated for Sept. 27-Oct. 4. Learn more, and find a complete list of award recipients since 1935, at

About the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, presented by the Cleveland Foundation, is the only juried prize in the nation for books that confront racism and celebrate diversity. Poet Edith Anisfield Wolf used her own fortune to start the prize in 1935, later entrusting it to the Cleveland Foundation. Each fall, the awards ceremony kicks off the literary season in Cleveland, attracting more than 1,000 attendees.