Neustadt Laureate announced
Naomi Shihab Nye has been named laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, announced at Friday’s banquet awarding Indian Canadian novelist Rohinton Mistry the 2012 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
The NSK Prize is a $25,000 juried award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and World Literature Today, OU’s award winning magazine of international literature and culture. Nye will be presented the $25,000 prize, a silver medallion, and a certificate during official ceremonies at the University of Oklahoma in fall 2013.
Funded by an endowment from Doris Westheimer Neustadt, the world-renowned Neustadt International Prize for Literature, also awarded through World Literature Today, is widely considered to be the “American Nobel” and one of the most prestigious international literary prizes.
The NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature was established by her granddaughters Nancy Barcelo, Susan Neustadt Schwartz, and Kathy Neustadt to encourage high-quality writing for children by honoring an accomplished contemporary writer or illustrator of children’s literature.
Poet William Stafford has praised Nye’s work, stating, “Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.”
At the banquet announcement, R.C. Davis-Undiano, WLT’s executive director, commented that “with her powerful vision and high-quality poetry, fiction, and young-adult literature, Ms. Nye may be one of the most complete and accomplished writers in the world.”
Born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Mo., to a Palestinian father and an American mother, Naomi Shihab Nye spent her adolescence studying overseas in Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her bachelor’s degree in English and world religions from Trinity University.
Her collection of poems, “19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East” was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her novel Habibi has been translated into five languages and received five “Best Book” awards. She has penned multiple poetry collections and books of essays and picture books, including “Sitti’s Secrets,” which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.