A history of gay rights in America and a collection of poems by a former professor at SUNY Stony Brook are among the winners of this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, announced Wednesday. The awards, given by the Cleveland Foundation, honor “literature that confronts racism and examines diversity.”
Lillian Faderman’s “The Gay Revolution” (Simon & Schuster) takes the nonfiction prize. Faderman, a historian and retired professor from California State University, chronicles the movement for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, from the 1950s to the present, incorporating interviews with activists, politicians, soldiers and lawyers.
The fiction award goes to “The Jazz Palace” by Mary Morris (Anchor Books), who spent 20 years writing it. The novel focuses on a black trumpeter, a Jewish pianist and a saloon owner in Prohibition-era Chicago. Morris is a professor of creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College.
Rowan Ricardo Phillips, who lives in New York and teaches at SUNY Stony Brook, has won the poetry award for his second collection, “Heaven” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). A second nonfiction award goes to New York Times dance critic Brian Seibert, whose “What the Eye Hears: A Cultural History of Tap Dancing” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards last month.
Sociologist Orlando Patterson, a professor at Harvard University and the author of many influential volumes, including “Slavery and Social Death” (1982) and “Freedom in the Making of Western Culture” (1991), is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award.
The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards were chosen by a jury chaired by Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. The other jurors were poet Rita Dove, novelist Joyce Carol Oates, psychologist Steven Pinker and historian Simon Schama.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Cleveland on Sept. 15.