In a press release today, the Cleveland Foundation announced the winners of its 77th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Named for poet and philanthropist Edith Anisfield Wolf, the awards are meant to honor her legacy and her belief that literature was essential to bridging distrust and misunderstanding.
Here are the foundation's picks for the authors who did that most successfully this year:
Esi Edugyan, Half-Blood Blues: A Novel, Fiction: A tale of African-American jazz musicians who flourished in Berlin during the cabaret heyday of the Weimar Republic.
David W. Blight, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era, Nonfiction: An examination of the mid-1960s perspective of race and politics through the writings of five authors.
David Livingstone Smith, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others, Nonfiction: A study of the roots of human violence.
Wole Soyinka, Lifetime Achievement: A Nigerian writer, poet and playwright and the recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in literature.
The Root's editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, serves as jury chair for the awards. "The 2012 Anisfield-Wolf winners reflect the complexity of the issues of race and cultural diversity in our world," he said in a statement released today.