New Isabel Wilkerson book, ‘Caste,’ to come out in August
Isabel Wilkerson’s first book since her Pulitzer Prize winning “The Warmth of Other Suns” is a years-long project that will explore what she calls the “unseen skeleton” of hierarchy in American life.
Random House announced that Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” comes out Aug. 20. In the book, Wilkerson writes that “The human impulse to create hierarchies runs across societies and cultures” and “predates the idea of race.”
“Caste is the bones, race is the skin,” writes Wilkerson, in an excerpt provided by her publisher. “Race is what we can see, the physical traits that have been given arbitrary meaning and become shorthand for who a person is. Caste is the powerful infrastructure that holds each group in its place.”
Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” her acclaimed work on African American migration from the South in the 20th century, was published in 2010. The debut book won the Pulitzer and National Book Critics Circle Award, its admirers also including President Barack Obama, who presented Wilkerson with a National Humanities Medal in 2016 for “championing the stories of an unsung history.”
Alex Kotlowitz’s ‘American Summer’ wins book prize
Alex Kotlowitz’s “An American Summer,” an intimate chronicle of gun violence in Chicago, has won the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize. Kerri K. Greenidge’s “Black Radical,” a biography of civil rights activist William Monroe Trotter, received an award for history.
Both the Lukas prize and Mark Lynton History Prize come with $10,000, and were announced by the Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, which administer the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards.
The Lukas project also announced two winners of the work-in-progress, a $25,000 prize. The recipients are Bartow J. Elmore for “Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and the Future of Food” and Shahan Mufti for “American Caliph: The True Story of the Hanafi Siege, America’s First Homegrown Islamic Terror Attack.”
The Lukas prizes, established in 1998, are named for the late author and investigative journalist and are given to nonfiction books that exemplify literary excellence and social consciousness. Past winners include Robert Caro, Jill Lepore and Andrew Solomon.
A May 5 awards ceremony has been postponed because of concerns about the coronavirus.
Author Rick Atkinson wins $50,000 history prize
Military historian Rick Atkinson has won a $50,000 prize for his first of three planned volumes on the Revolutionary War.
The New-York Historical Society announced that Atkinson had received the Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize for “The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777.” Pam Schafler, chair of the society’s board of trustees, called the book “riveting, illuminating and wonderfully provocative.”
Atkinson is also known for his “Liberation Trilogy” on World War II. He won a Pulitzer Prize for the first volume, “An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943.”
Previous winners of the Zalaznick prize include Robert Caro, Jill Lepore and Ron Chernow.
Yusef Salaam working on novel about wrongful imprisonment
One of the former “Central Park Five” is teaming with an acclaimed children’s author on a young adult novel with a personal theme — being wrongfully sentenced to prison.
Yusef Salaam and author Ibi Zoboi are working together on “Punching the Air,” according to Bray + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. The book comes out Sept. 1.
Salaam was among five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were coerced into confessing to a rape they didn’t commit in 1989. They were exonerated in 2002, but not before all had served prison time. They later received a multimillion-dollar settlement from New York City. Ken Burns made a documentary about them and Ava DuVernay directed a Netflix series.
“Punching the Air” tells of a gifted, but troublesome teen, Amal Shahid, who is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.
“’Punching the Air’ reflects not only my story, but the stories of millions of young boys and girls of color who face the injustice of mass incarceration and the criminal justice system,” Salaam said in a statement. “Books have the power to change the way we think and transform societies. This novel is a continuation of my work to shine a light on the reality of our criminal justice system and inspire young people to advocate for change.”
Zoboi’s books include “Pride” and “American Street,” a National Book Award finalist in 2017 for young people’s literature. She and Salaam met while both were attending Hunter College in 1999.
— Herald news services