2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards Nominees


The 2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards Nominees have been announced and several names on the list are Caribbean-born writers or of Caribbean background, including Nicole Dennis-Benn (Jamaica), Curdella Forbes (Jamaica), and Rion Amilcar Scott (U.S./Trinidadian).

  • Patsy, Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright)
  • A Tall History of Sugar, Curdella Forbes (Akashic Books)
  • The World Doesn’t Require You, Rion Amilcar Scott (Liveright)

The 2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by Black writers from the United States and around the world. The evening will culminate in the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2019 in the categories of debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. More than 100 books were submitted by publishers and self-published authors. The judges – all Legacy Award Honorees in previous years – worked independently of the foundation to evaluate the books for artistic excellence and contribution to the literary canon. Though our community cannot come together in person for the 2020 Legacy Awards, we have creatively reimagined our signature event. We invite you to join us virtually from the comfort of your homes and celebrate Black literary excellence.

The Nominees for the 2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are:

Debut Fiction

Avery Colt is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar, Ron A. Austin (Southeast Missouri State University Press)

Africaville, Jeffrey Colvin (Amistad)

As a River, Sion Dayson (Jaded Ibis Press)


Speaking of Summer, Kalisha Buckhanon (Counterpoint)

Patsy, Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright)

A Tall History of Sugar, Curdella Forbes (Akashic Books)

Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead Books)

The World Doesn’t Require You, Rion Amilcar Scott (Liveright)

The Revisioners, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counterpoint)


Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People, Ben Crump (Amistad)

Think Black: A Memoir, Clyde Ford (Amistad)

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals, Saidiya Hartman (W. W. Norton & Company)

We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood, Dani McClain (Bold Type Books)

Solitary: My Story of Transformation and Hope, Albert Woodfox (Grove Press)

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays, Damon Young (Ecco)


Night Angler (American Poets Continuum), Geffrey Davis (BOA Editions, LTD)

1919, Eve L. Ewing (Haymarket Books)

& More Black, t’ai freedom ford (Augury Books)

Exiles of Eden, Ladan Osman (Coffee House Press)

Library of Small Catastrophes, Alison Rollins (Copper Canyon Press)

Syncope, Asiya Wadud (Ugly Duckling Presse)

The judges
Debut Fiction: Preston Allen, Ladee Hubbard, Chigozie Obioma
Fiction: Chris Abani, Sanderia Faye, Alain Mabanckou
Nonfiction: Danielle Allen, Gerald Horne, Noliwe Rooks
Poetry: Kwoya Fagin Maples, Patricia Smith, Phillip Williams

The Legacy Awards ceremony historically draws an audience of more than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia. Legacy Awards for books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry will be presented during the ceremony. Previously announced winners of the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, under the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers are also honored during the event. This year’s virtual awards will feature musical performances, public readings and an array of special guests.

Connect with us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for more announcements about our 2020 virtual award ceremony.

For more information, see https://www.hurstonwright.org/announcing-the-2020-legacy-awards-nominees/

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