It is with great pleasure that we announce that Kevin Young, Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Curator, Raymond Danowski Poetry Collection, has been awarded the 2013 PEN Open Book Award for The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press). His book was also a finalist in criticism for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
The PEN Open Book Award was created by PEN American Center’s Open Book Committee, a group committed to racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. The award confers a $5,000 prize upon an author of color.
From the Judges’ Citation for The Grey Album
Like Duke Ellington’s fabled, Harlem-bound A Train, Kevin Young’s The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness propels us across a panorama of African American history, creativity and struggle with a lightning-brisk brilliance and purpose. Here’s what happens when an acclaimed poet makes his first foray into nonfiction: madcap manifesto and rhapsodic reportage create a formidable blend of scholarship and memoir that tackles cultural and personal history in one breath. Young goes far beyond just being a documentarian of American Black identity—he shows us how Black identity is indispensable to American culture. The Grey Album is an ambitious, exhilarating, impassioned work of Black literary and cultural criticism, unlike any other—an inspired, sweeping book that deserves to be savored and celebrated.