2018 Literary Gala on Saturday, October 27 honors writer Gerald Early and others

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Gerald L. Early will receive the 2018 Tradition of Literary Excellence Award at a special reception on Saturday, October 27 in University City’s City Hall. (Photo by James Byard, Washington University in St. Louis.)

The annual Tradition of Literary Excellence Award will be given to noted writer Professor Gerald L. Early of Washington University in St. Louis, in a special ceremony at 7 p.m., Saturday, October 27 in the fifth floor of University City’s City Hall.  Also honored that evening will be retiring children’s librarian LaRita Wright of the University City Public Library, and the journalism students of University City High School who were recognized last spring for their outstanding achievements.

Early is the fifth annual recipient of the award, which was created in 2014 and is funded by the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City “to honor the work of a living local author whose literary achievement has won national and international acclaim and, in so doing, has contributed to the distinction of the St. Louis area, upholding its tradition as a center of literary excellence.”  Previous recipients were William H. Gass, Jane O. Wayne, Patricia McKissack, and Michael Castro.

Early is a professor in — and currently the chair of — the African and African American Studies Department at Washington University, where he has taught since 1982. He has an appointment in the university’s American Culture Studies Program, a program for which he has also served as director. He was the founding director of the Center for the Humanities. He is currently the faculty director of the Henry Hampton Film Archive and the executive editor of The Common Reader, Washington University’s new interdisciplinary journal.

Early is a noted essayist and American culture critic. His collections of essays include Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture (1989); The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism; This is Where I Came In: Essays on Black America in the 1960s (2003), and, most recently, A Level-Playing Field: African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports (2011). He is also the author of Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood (1994). He was twice nominated for Grammy Awards for writing album liner notes, and he is a prolific anthologist. His most recent edited books are the Best African American Essays 2010 with guest editor Randall Kennedy and Best African American Fiction 2010 with guest editor Nikki Giovanni.

He has served as a consultant on several Ken Burns’ documentary films—Baseball; Jazz; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, and an upcoming fi lm on the life of Jackie Robinson—all of which have or will be aired on PBS.

Early will receive the award on Saturday evening, October 27, 2018, at the Tradition of Literary Excellence Award ceremony. The event will take place on the fifth floor of University City’s historic city hall (6801 Delmar Blvd.) at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend the awards ceremony and may purchase tickets ($25/person; $40/couple), which cover beverage, reception, and live music, at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3740888. To find out more about the event, contact Winnie Sullivan, penultim@swbell.net, (314) 447-3888.

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