Finalists Announced for 2017 Marfield Prize

The Arts Club of Washington is pleased to announce the finalists for the twelfth annual Marfield Prize, the National Award for Arts Writing. They are:

Edwidge DanticatThe Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Graywolf Press)

Jon ElseTrue South: Henry Hampton and Eyes on the Prize, the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement (Viking)

Wendy LesserYou Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Steven LubarInside the Lost Museum: Curating, Past and Present (Harvard University Press)

Cullen MurphyCartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Marfield Prize, sponsored by the Arts Club of Washington, recognizes the author of an outstanding nonfiction book about the arts published during the previous calendar year. This $10,000 prize is designed to highlight excellence in arts writing for a general audience.

This year’s award judges are W. Ralph Eubanks, visiting professor of English and Southern studies at the University of Mississippi, and author of Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past and The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American SouthCarolyn Parkhurst, the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, including The Dogs of Babel and Harmony, as well as a children’s book, Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly; and Robert Wrigley, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Idaho and author of 10 books of poetry, including Box and Anatomy of Melancholy.

The winner will be announced by the end of March. He or she will travel to Washington, DC, on May 2-3 for a brief residency that includes an award ceremony; a visit with a DC public high school; an interview with poet Grace Cavalieri, host of the Library of Congress’ podcast, The Poet and the Poem; and a public presentation at the club, located in a historic, Federal-era mansion that was the home of President James Monroe.

Publishers, agents, or authors may submit books published in 2018 starting in late summer for consideration for the next award cycle. The deadline is October 15 of each year. Full guidelines and the submission form can be found at



Edwidge Danticat is the author of many books, most recently Claire of the Sea Light and Brother, I’m Dying. She is a two-time finalist for the National Book Award and has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and other honors.

Filmmaker Jon Else produced and directed The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb and Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature, among others. He is a MacArthur Fellow and directs the documentary program at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Wendy Lesser is the founder and editor of the Threepenny Review and the author of a novel and several previous books of nonfiction, including Why I Read. To complete You Say to Brick, she was awarded one of the first National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar awards.

Steven Lubar is a professor in the departments of American studies; history; and history of art and architecture at Brown University. He was previously curator at the National Museum of American History and director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.

Cullen Murphy is the editor at large at Vanity Fair and the former managing editor of The Atlantic Monthly. He is the author of The Word According to EveJust Curious, and God’s Jury.

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