Schedule Unveiled for Cleveland Book Week 2018

Judy Blume, Steven Pinker, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and 83rd edition of awards highlight Cleveland’s status as a literary destination

Release Date: 8.3.2018

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation today announced the schedule for its third annual Cleveland Book Week. This year’s showcase, which runs from Sept. 22-29, celebrates present and past Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners, while offering a number of free literary and literacy themed events for the community.

The series of events is bookmarked by the sold out 83rd annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards (AWBA), which is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27 in the KeyBank State Theatre at Playhouse Square. Anisfield-Wolf remains the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and explores diversity. The 2018 honorees are:

  • Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor, Poetry
  • Scott Momaday, Lifetime Achievement
  • Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Fiction
  • Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, Nonfiction

“As the only national prize for the best writing each year that tackles racism and equity, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards encapsulates our ongoing struggle in this country to form a more perfect union,” said Karen R. Long, who manages the awards for the Cleveland Foundation. “It’s been wonderful to witness Cleveland Book Week grow from a few events to a full schedule of community experiences. In three short years, we’ve truly become a cultural destination.”

With support of a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, INTER|URBAN Phase II will also debut in conjunction with Cleveland Book Week. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and LAND studio will unveil 25 Red Line cars featuring on-board works of art that respond to five authors from the Anisfield-Wolf canon. A selection committee comprised of local artists, performers, designers, transportation planners, and Anisfield-Wolf scholars chose 25 artists (from more than 200 applicants) who created art inspired by one of these celebrated works: The Negro Speaks of Rivers, by Langston Hughes, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson, The Fortunes, by Peter Ho Davies, Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon and The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, by Lillian Faderman. More than half of the artists selected for Phase II call Northeast Ohio home. In 2016, INTER|URBAN Phase I spurred the creation of Anisfield-Wolf-themed murals along the Red Line, which connects downtown Cleveland with Hopkins International Airport to the west, and University Circle to the east.

The Cleveland Foundation and Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards are presenting Cleveland Book Week in partnership with Baker-Nord Center, Brews + Prose, The City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Karamu House, Literary Cleveland and Twelve Literary Arts.

For more information on Cleveland Book Week (#CBW2018) and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards (#AWBA2018), visit

Events scheduled for Cleveland Book Week 2018 include:

Saturday, Sept. 22

Paul Beatty: Writers & Readers

2 p.m., Cleveland Public Library, Main Library – Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium

FREE EVENT: Registration not required

Paul Beatty visits Cleveland Public Library as part of its Writers & Readers Series, presented in partnership with Literary Cleveland. His 2015 novel The Sellout made him the first American to win the Man Booker Prize in Fiction and earned the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction. The novelist, in his own words, set out to see if he could make himself flinch, writing a scathing satire about reinstating slavery on a present-day farm in southern California. He is also the author of The White Boy Shuffle, Tuff, Slumberland and two works of poetry.

Tuesday, Sept. 25

Shane McRae: In the Language of My Captor (2018 AWBA Poetry Winner)

5:30 p.m., Karamu House

FREE EVENT: Registration required

Shane McCrae interrogates history and perspective with his fifth book, In the Language of My Captor, including the connections between racism and love. He uses historical persona poems and prose memoir to address the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. This evening of poetry, music, and art is presented by Twelve Literary Arts and Karamu House.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

A. Van Jordan at Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities (2005 AWBA Poetry Winner, M*A*C*N*O*L*I*A)

5 p.m., Baker-Nord Center, Clark Hall Room 309, Case Western Reserve University

FREE EVENT: Registration recommended

Join poet A. Van Jordan, 2005 Anisfield-Wolf winner for M*A*C*N*O*L*I*A, and Ohio Poet Laureate Dave Lucas for conversation and recitation. Jordan uses multiple voices and approaches to portray MacNolia Cox, an Akron girl who became the first black finalist in the National Spelling Bee Competition. His poems draw on blues, jazz and prose stylings to depict the Depression and mid-century racism, two elements that framed life in 1936.

AW Salon: Steven Pinker and Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Enlightenment Now

5:30 p.m., Cleveland Museum of Art

FREE EVENT: Registration required

Anisfield-Wolf jurist Steven Pinker set out, first in his acclaimed The Better Angels of Our Nature, and this year in the follow-up bestseller Enlightenment Now, to illustrate that there has never been a better time to be a human being. Join us for a unique, intimate, and intriguing conversation around this and other topics between Pinker and Anisfield-Wolf Jury Chair Henry Louis Gates Jr. – friends and Harvard University professors.

Writers Center Stage – Judy Blume

7:30 p.m., The Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center

TICKETS: By subscription only – single event tickets are $30 and go on sale Monday, Aug. 20 at 9 a.m.

The William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series kicks off this year with Judy Blume, one of the world’s most beloved authors. Her books have sold more than 85 million copies in 32 languages, becoming a touchstone for generations of young readers. The program includes a Q&A and book signing.

Thursday, Sept. 27

**SOLD OUT** Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

6 p.m., State Theatre, Playhouse Square

FREE EVENT: Sold out.

Watch the ceremony live via webstream at

The Anisfield-Wolf Book 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 Anisfield-Wolf prizes have opened and challenged our minds. 

Friday, Sept. 28

The City Club of Cleveland Forum: N. Scott Momaday (2018 AWBA Lifetime Achievement Winner)

Noon, The City Club of Cleveland

TICKETS: $22 members/$37 nonmembers ()

  1. Scott Momaday remade American literature in 1966 with his first novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning House Made of Dawn. Anisfield-Wolf Jury Chair Henry Louis Gates Jr. says Momaday “is at root a storyteller who both preserves and expands Native American culture in his critically praised, transformative writing.” He will discuss his life, his work, and take questions in the traditional City Club of Cleveland style.

Bunk and a Beer with Kevin Young (2018 AWBA Nonfiction Winner, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News)

6 p.m., Worthington Yards

FREE EVENT: Registration recommended

Kevin Young is a public intellectual, the editor of eight books and the author of 13, including the 2018 Anisfield-Wolf winning Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News. He spent six years researching and writing this cultural history of the covert American love of the con, and its entanglement with racial history.

Saturday, Sept. 29

Great Lakes Black Authors Expo & Writers Conference

10 a.m. – 5 p.m., East Cleveland Public Library

FREE EVENT: Registration required

Organized by Melanated Literary Heritage, Ltd., the Great Lakes Black Authors Expo and Writers Conference fosters literary education and publishing industry networking. Notable authors from all over the Great Lakes region, along with Keynote Speaker Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage, will convene and work towards developing a platform to recognize up-and-coming writers.

AW Family: Derrick Barnes and Gordon James on CROWN: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

2 p.m., Cleveland Public Library, Main Library – Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium

FREE EVENT: Registration not required

Joy, imagination, swagger and style animate Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, as a young black boy prepares to take on the world with a fresh cut. The author and illustrator share the story of their picture book, which earned Newbery and Caldecott Honors, Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Honors, the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor, and a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators.