Two Emory professors win Georgia Author of the Year awards

By April Hunt | Emory Report | June 18, 2019

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Georgia Authors of the Year: Ruby Lal (left) took top honors in the biography category for “Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan.” Joseph Crespino’s “Atticus Finch: The Biography” won the history category. Lal photo by Myron McGhee. Crespino photo by Emory Photo/Video.

Two Emory University professors have won 2019 Georgia Author of the Year Awards for their accounts of historical characters both real and imagined.

Joseph Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of History in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, won in the history category for “Atticus Finch: The Biography,” which draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Harper Lee’s father provided the central inspiration for her most well-known character.

Ruby Lal, a professor of South Asian studies in Emory College, won in the biography category for “Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan,” her panoramic story of the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir, who was regarded by historians as the “real power behind the throne” in 14th century India. The book, Lal’s third, had previously been named a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

The Georgia Writers Association, the nonprofit that administers the awards, announced the wins during the 55th annual award ceremony on June 15.

Two other notable Emory faculty members were selected as finalists for Georgia Author of the Year awards. 

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who was recently awarded tenure after almost 40 years as Emory University Distinguished Professor, was the finalist in the specialty book category for “The Paintings of Jimmy Carter.” 

Tayari Jones, a professor of English and creative writing, was the finalist in the literary fiction category for her novel “An American Marriage,” which recently won the Women’s Prize for Fiction and an NAACP Image Award and was also a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.