Last week the White House announced that Toni Morrison (author of Beloved and the recently published, Home) and Shimon Peres (Israeli president and author of the biography, Ben-Gurion) will be two of the thirteen people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Presented to "individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," this is the nation's highest civilian honor. Presentations will be made to this year's recipients at the White House later this spring.
John A. Farrell's Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned has been awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography. Prizes were announced last Friday, April 20th at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Drawing on untapped archives and full of fresh revelations, Farrell's book is the definitive biography of America's legendary defense attorney and progressive hero.
Karen Russell was named as one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In a surprising, but not unprecedented turn of events, the panel decided not to award the Pulitzer to any of this year's finalists. Russell's Swamplandia!, a lush and bravely imagined debut that follows thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree and Swamplandia!, her family's island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades, has been previously long-listed for the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction.