Fiction Prize

Since 2008, the Library of Congress has awarded a prize to distinguished writers of fiction. The Library of Congress Lifetime Achievement Award for the Writing of Fiction was created to honor a career dedicated to the literary arts. This award was first presented to Herman Wouk on Sept. 10, 2008. This inaugural award has inspired subsequent Library of Congress fiction awards, given in connection with the Library’s annual National Book Festival.

From 2009 to 2012, the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for fiction has been presented to John Grisham, Isabel Allende, Toni Morrison and Philip Roth. Beginning in 2013, the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction has been presented to an author for a body of extraordinary work. Recipients have included Don De Lillo and E.L. Doctorow.

The annual Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction is meant to honor an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that, throughout long, consistently accomplished careers, have told us something about the American experience.

  • Biography
    Colson Whitehead
    2020 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
    Colson Whitehead – credit © Chris Close. Colson Whitehead was born in New York City in 1969. He is a graduate of Harvard University and has taught at Princeton and New York universities. The author of seven novels, Whitehead is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in […]
  • Biography
    Richard Ford
    2019 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
    Richard Ford is the author of the acclaimed novels “The Sportswriter” and “Canada.” Ford was born in 1944 in Jackson, Mississippi, and grew up between there and Little Rock, Arkansas. His seven novels include “The Sportswriter,” the first of the Bascombe Trilogy, and “Canada,” winner of the Prix Femina étranger. He has also published three […]
  • Biography
    E. Annie Proulx
    2018 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
    E. Annie Proulx is the author of the critically acclaimed novel “The Shipping News” and the short story “Brokeback Mountain.” Proulx was born in Connecticut in 1935. She is the author of eight books, including “The Shipping News,” which received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the Irish Times International Fiction Prize; and […]
  • Biography
    Denis Johnson
    2017 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
    Denis Johnson is the author of the critically acclaimed collection of short stories “Jesus’ Son” and the novel “Tree of Smoke.” Johnson was born in Munich, West Germany, the son of an American diplomat, and spent his childhood in the Philippines and Japan before returning to spend the rest of his youth in the suburbs […]
  • Biography
    Marilynne Robinson
    2016 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
    Marilynne Robinson is author of such critically acclaimed novels as “Gilead” and “Home. Robinson was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, in 1943. She is the author of four novels: “Lila” (2014), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; “Home” (2008), winner of the Orange Prize (UK) and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; “Gilead” (2004), […]
  • Biography
    Louise Erdrich
    2015 Lifetime Achievement Award for the Writing of Fiction
    Louise Erdrich is author of the critically acclaimed novels "Love Medicine," "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse," "The Plague of Doves" and her current novel, "The Round House.” According to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, "Throughout a remarkable string of virtuosic novels, Louise Erdrich has portrayed her fellow Native Americans as […]
  • Biography
    E.L. Doctorow
    2014 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
    E.L. Doctorow is the author of such critically acclaimed novels as “Ragtime” (National Book Critics Circle Award), “World’s Fair” (National Book Award), “Billy Bathgate” (PEN/Faulkner Award), “The March” (National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Faulkner Award) and 2014 novel, “Andrew’s Brain.” “E.L. Doctorow is our very own Charles Dickens, summoning a distinctly American place and time, […]
  • Biography
    Don DeLillo
    2013 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
    Don DeLillo is one of America’s most celebrated writers. He has received the National Book Award (“White Noise,” 1985), a PEN/Faulkner Award (“Mao II,” 1992) and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction (2010), among many other accolades. “Like Dostoyevsky, Don DeLillo probes deeply into the sociopolitical and moral life of his country,” […]
  • Biography
    Philip Roth
    2012 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
    Philip Roth’s career was blessed with recognition from the very beginning, when in 1959 his first published book, “Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories,” won the National Book Award for Fiction. Recognizing a literary prodigy, the Library of Congress immediately solicited his papers. A decade later Roth donated the records for his early works. The […]
  • Biography
    Toni Morrison
    2011 Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award
    The work of Toni Morrison has gained worldwide acclaim. The 1993 Nobel Prize in literature was awarded to Morrison, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” Her novel “Beloved” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988. In 2006, The New York Times […]
  • Biography
    Isabel Allende
    2010 Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award
    Isabel Allende is a best-selling Chilean-American writer who was born in Lima, where her father, Tomás Allende, was Chile’s ambassador to Peru. Her uncle was Chilean President Salvador Allende, who was assassinated in 1973 during a military coup. Believing it was unsafe to remain in Chile, Isabel, her husband and two children fled to Venezuela. […]
  • Biography
    John Grisham
    2009 Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award
    Grisham was born in 1955 in Jonesboro, Ark. After giving up his dream of becoming a professional baseball player, Grisham focused his energies on obtaining a degree in accounting from Mississippi State University and a law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1981. While practicing law at a small practice in Southaven, Miss., Grisham […]
  • Biography
    Herman Wouk
    2008 Lifetime Achievement Award for the Writing of Fiction
    Herman Wouk was born in 1915 and raised in the Bronx, N.Y., by Russian Jewish immigrant parents. He graduated from Columbia University in 1934 at the age of 20, soon thereafter was writing radio scripts and by 1936 was working for Fred Allen. Wouk’s first publication was the short play “The Man in the Trench […]
  • Film, Video
    Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio & Freedom
    • Contributor: Williams, Sonja D.
    • Date: 2016-02-03
  • Film, Video
    Literary Birthday Celebration: Philip Roth
    • Contributor: Norman, Howard - Lipsyte, Sam
    • Date: 2014-03-19
  • Film, Video
    Library of Congress Honors Herman Wouk with Literary Award
    • Contributor: Wouk, Herman
    • Date: 2008-09-10
  • Film, Video
    Fiction Collections at the Library of Congress
    • Contributor: Cole, John Y. - Dimunation, Mark - Birney, Alice - Lamolinara, Guy
    • Date: 2009-10-23
  • Film, Video
    A Hole in Texas
    • Contributor: Safire, William - Wouk, Herman
    • Date: 2004-04-21
  • Film, Video
    Marilynne Robinson on Literacy
    • Contributor: Robinson, Marilynne
    • Date: 2016-09-24
  • Film, Video
    Fiction, Faith and the Imagination: Celebrating Marilynne Robinson
    • Contributor: Lightman, Alan - Harding, Paul - Brooks, Geraldine - Robinson, Marilynne
    • Date: 2017-04-03
  • Film, Video
    Stories From a Fallen World: A Tribute to Denis Johnson
    • Contributor: Quinones, Sam - Cuthrell, Elizabeth - Arana, Marie - Franzen, Jonathan - Ackerman, Elliot
    • Date: 2018-03-28
  • Film, Video
    Climate Change, Nature & the Writer's Eye: A Tribute to Annie Proulx
    • Contributor: Ghosh, Amitav - Proulx, Annie - Brannen, Peter
    • Date: 2019-03-20