Author Walter Mosley Will Make History As The First Black Man To Receive The National Book Award’s Lifetime Achievement Medal


October 1, 2020

World renowned author Walter Mosley is set to make history as the first Black man to receive the National Book Award’s lifetime achievement medal, AP News reports. 

Mosley is known for his best novels that span the range of genre from science fiction to mystery including “Devil In a Blue Dress,” “Down the River Unto the Sea, and “Twelve Steps Toward Political Revelation.” Over the years the author has been praised for his work, winning numerous awards to include an Edgar Award for best mystery novel, a Henry prize for short stories and a Grammy for his liner notes in Richard Pryor’s “…And It’s Deep Too!,” anthology. 

Now he will receive the National Book Award’s lifetime achievement honor, making him the first Black man to win the award in the organization’s 32-year history. The 68-year-old is no stranger to the organization, previously serving on the Foundation’s board of directors and hosting the annual ceremony. He feels like the reason why it’s taken so long for his work to receive the award is because his primary genre, crime fiction, is normally not considered when the list for best books are compiled.  


While Mosley doesn’t see himself primarily as a crime novelist, he acknowledges the impact of his acclaimed mystery series following the life of Los Angeles private detective Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins. His focus on continuing the narrative has nothing to do with crime though, but rather a larger ploy to show a more comprehensive view of Black men in the U.S., more importantly, Black heroes. 

National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas spoke about Mosely’s work and his lifetime achievement honor, saying, “Mosley is undeniably prolific, but what sets his work apart is his examination of both complex issues and intimate realities through the lens of characters in his fiction, as well as his accomplished historical narrative works and essays. His oeuvre and his lived experience are distinctly part of the American experience. And as such, his contributions to our culture make him more than worthy of the Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.”

The ceremony will broadcast online Nov. 18th, and Mosley’s award will be presented to him by fellow author and friend Edwidge Danticat. 


Congratulations Mr. Mosley!!!

Photo Courtesy of Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times

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