Emory professor, novelist Tayari Jones wins NAACP Image Award

Emory Report | April 1, 2019

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Tayari Jones, professor of English and creative writing at Emory, has been honored with the NAACP Image Award for fiction for her acclaimed novel “An American Marriage.”

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Tayari Jones, a professor of English and creative writing at Emory, has been honored with an NAACP Image Award for her novel “An American Marriage.” Winners were announced March 30.

A New York Times bestseller and 2018 pick for Oprah’s Book Club, “An American Marriage” tells the story of newlyweds whose pursuit of the American dream is violently interrupted when one of them is incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. The NAACP honored the book in the category of “Outstanding Literary Work — Fiction.”

The NAACP Image Awards celebrate the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, as well as people or groups who promote social justice or creative endeavors. 

Carol Anderson, an Emory historian who serves as Charles Howard Candler Professor and chair of African American Studies, was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Anderson was one of five finalists in the category of “Outstanding Literary Work — Youth/Teens” for “We Are Not Yet Equal,” the young adult adaptation of her book “White Rage,” which examines policy responses to political and economic advancement by African Americans. 

Praise for “An American Marriage” 

Named among the most notable books of 2018 by both the New York Times and the Washington Post, “An American Marriage” was recently named to the longlist for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction, the U.K.’s most prestigious annual book award for women’s fiction; the shortlist will be announced later this month, with the winner named June 5.

It is also a finalist for the 2019 Aspen Words Literary Prize (winners announced April 11); a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (winners announced April 12); and was the winner of the 2019 Black Caucus American Library Association Literary Award for Fiction, among other honors.

“It’s among Tayari’s many gifts that she can touch us soul to soul with her words,” Winfrey noted in a blog announcing the novel’s selection for her book club.

An Atlanta native, Jones joined Emory’s faculty in fall 2018. Her other novels include "Leaving Atlanta," based on her experiences growing up during the Atlanta child murders; "The Untelling," also set in Atlanta and the recipient of the Lillian Smith Book Award; and "Silver Sparrow," selected by the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read Library of Contemporary Classics.