Cleveland Foundation Presents 4th Annual Cleveland Book Week 

Cleveland Book Week logo 2019

Series of special events to celebrate the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and promote Cleveland as a literary destination

Presented by the Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland Book Week (Sept. 18-28, 2019) celebrates present and past Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards winners, highlights nationally recognized literary talent and offers free literary and literacy-themed events for the community. The fourth annual Cleveland Book Week is anchored by the 84th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremony, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 26 in the KeyBank State Theatre at Playhouse Square. This year’s winners are:

  • Andrew Delbanco, The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War, Nonfiction
  • Tommy Orange, There There, Fiction
  • Tracy K. Smith, Wade in the Water, Poetry
  • Sonia Sanchez, Lifetime Achievement

The Cleveland Foundation and Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards are presenting Cleveland Book Week in partnership with Brews + Prose, Case Western Reserve University, The City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland State University Poetry Center, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Great Lakes African American Writers Conference, Great Lakes Science Center, Karamu House, Kent State University, Lake Erie Native American Council, Project 400, and St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Click here to download the Cleveland Book Week 2019 Brochure.

Sonia Sanchez portrait

Photo credit Jim Alexander

An Evening with Sonia Sanchez
Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m.
Kent State University, Kiva Auditorium

Join poet, activist and 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Lifetime Achievement winner Sonia Sanchez on Wednesday, September 18 on the campus of Kent State University for an event aligning her groundbreaking civil rights and peace work with the university’s year-long examination of the 50th anniversary of the May 4, 1970 shooting of students by members of the Ohio National Guard. Free event. Download event flyer here.


Cleveland Public Library presents Writers & Readers: Michael “Killer Mike” Render & Soledad O’Brien 
Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.
Maltz Performing Arts Center

SOLD OUT – Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien and Grammy Award-winning rapper and political commentator Michael “Killer Mike” Render talk about the books that shaped their lives to celebrate Cleveland Public Library’s 150th anniversary and kick off its Writers & Readers series. Free event, free parking.

A Celebration of Russell Atkins
Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.
Karamu House

Join the Cleveland State University Poetry Center and members of the national literary community for a launch party of World’d Too Much, a new book of Russell Atkins poems. Now 93, Atkins – the master of modernist poetry and a lifelong Clevelander – will be recognized with a performance of his music and words at Karamu House, where he ran a poetry workshop for many years. Free event.


Tracy K Smith portrait

Photo credit Rachel Eliza Griffiths

On the Water with Tracy K. Smith
Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 6 p.m.
William G. Mather on North Coast Harbor

Join Tracy K. Smith, the 2017-19 Poet Laureate of the United States, at the confluence of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River to hear her poems from Wade in the Water, a 2019 Anisfield-Wolf winner. Hosted by the Great Lakes Science Center, Brews + Prose and Cleveland Book Week, the reading and book signing will shimmer with the North Coast Harbor and the William G. Mather Steamship as backdrops. Free event.


Writers Center Stage: Jane Mayer & Frank Rich
Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Maltz Performing Arts Center

The William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series hosts a conversation between trailblazing investigative journalist Jane Mayer, Chief Washington Correspondent for the New Yorker, and award-winning New York Times journalist Frank Rich as a part of Cleveland Book Week 2019. The series benefits the Cuyahoga County Library Foundation.


84th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards
Presented by the Cleveland Foundation

Thursday, Sept. 26
KeyBank State Theatre

SOLD OUT – The Anisfield-Wolf Awards recognize books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and human diversity. It remains the only American book prize focusing on works that address racism and equity. For more than 80 years, the distinguished books earning the Anisfield-Wolf prizes have opened and challenged our minds. Free tickets will be available starting Sept. 5.


Project 400: Our Lived Experience Conference Keynote: Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Friday, Sept. 27 at 9:15 a.m.
Cleveland State University, Wolstein Center

Project 400 is a nine-month initiative commemorating the arrival of the first Africans in North America 400 years ago. The conference runs Sept. 27-28 and opens with professor, scholar and Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards jury chair Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., speaking on his new book Stony the Road and the history and dismantlement of Reconstruction. Free event. 


Andrew Delbanco portraitFugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul: Andrew Delbanco
Friday, Sept. 27 at noon
The City Club of Cleveland

Join Andrew Delbanco, winner of the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in nonfiction, as he explores how the battle over fugitive slaves in the pre-Civil War era affects America’s present day and its persistent struggles with race, immigration and inequality. Delbanco argues in The War Before the War that the disputes over whether to harbor or return fugitive slaves pushed the nation into Civil War.


Tommy Orange portrait

Photo credit Elena Seibert

An Evening with Tommy Orange
Friday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ohio City

Join the Lake Erie Native American Council, St. John Episcopal Church and Cleveland Book Week for dancing, song and literature in the sanctuary of this historic shrine. Tommy Orange is the recipient of the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction with his debut novel, There There. St. John’s, which opened in 1838, is the oldest consecrated building in Cuyahoga County. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad and the home, briefly, of the American Indian Movement and Russell Means. Refreshments will be served before the program. Free event.


Great Lakes African American Writers Conference
Saturday, Sept. 28 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
East Cleveland Public Library

Join a day-long conference with keynote speakers literary agent Kima Jones and writer Damon Young. Gather at the beautiful East Cleveland Public Library, where literary creatives from throughout the Great Lakes region will gather to learn from and network with influential publishing industry professionals from hubs including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. GLAAWC is free and open to all the public.


Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards logoAbout the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards: Cleveland poet and philanthropist Edith Anisfield Wolf established the The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards book prizes in 1935, in honor of her father, John Anisfield, and husband, Eugene Wolf, to reflect her family’s passion for issues of social justice. Today it remains the only American book prize focusing on works that address racism and diversity. Past winners have presented the extraordinary art and culture of peoples around the world, explored human-rights violations, exposed the effects of racism on children, reflected on growing up biracial, and illuminated the dignity of people as they search for justice. The Cleveland Foundation has administered the Anisfield-Wolf prize since 1963.