MacArthur Genius Fellow and Novelist Jacqueline Woodson to Receive 2022 Steinbeck Award

by | Sep 23, 2022 | Awards and Achievements


Jacqueline Woodson

Acclaimed writer Jacqueline Woodson will visit SJSU to receive the 2022 Steinbeck Award. Photo courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

For the first time since honoring playwright Arthur Miller in 1999, San José State University’s Center for Literary Arts and the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies will partner for a presentation of the John Steinbeck Award.

On Tuesday, October 18, Jacqueline Woodson, acclaimed author of “Brown Girl Dreaming,” “Another Brooklyn,” and “Red at the Bone,” will receive the celebrated award at the Student Union Theater at San José State. The event will also be available via livestream through the Center for Literary Arts website.

The Steinbeck Award presentation will highlight a free event beginning at 7 p.m. and feature Woodson in conversation with Michele Elam, the William Robertson Coe Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University.

A MacArthur Fellow and a National Book Award winner, Woodson has published more than 35 books for adults, teens, and children, many of which have gone on to win major awards, including the prestigious Coretta Scott King Award, the Newbery Honor Medal, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

The Cox Center has the authorization of the Steinbeck estate to present awards to artists and activists who, through their work, embody the spirit of Steinbeck’s social engagement, his empathy for everyday Americans, and his commitment to democratic values. Previous recipients include Bruce Springsteen, Arthur Miller, Dolores Huerta, Ruby Bridges, Ken Burns, and José Andrés.

“What a deep honor,” said Woodson. “I have long loved the recipients of this award! And ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ ‘East of Eden, and ‘Of Mice and Men’ are among my go-to books.”

The Steinbeck Award Selection Committee cites Woodson not only as an important author but also as an exceptional citizen, praising her as founder of Baldwin for the Arts and as champion of the phenomenal project “I See My Light Shining: an Oral History of our Elders.”

Said Daniel Rivers, executive director of the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, “We are delighted to have the Center for Literary Arts as our partner and thrilled to honor Jacqueline Woodson with the John Steinbeck “In the Souls of the People”Award.

“Woodson’s creative works are various, but they are united by a common attention to the loves, losses, contradictions, and community bonds that characterize daily life across the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

“Woodson offers her readers visions of the past and present that can serve as blueprints for a more just, empathetic, and introspective future. We are certain that Steinbeck would count himself among her many admirers.”

Learn more about the Steinbeck Award event.