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2024 St. Louis Literary Award

For more than 50 years, the St. Louis Literary Award has honored many of the most important writers of our time and celebrated the contributions of literature in enriching our lives. The St. Louis Literary Award is among the oldest and most prestigious of literary prizes in the country.

From 1967 until 1981, the award was known as the Messing Award in honor of Roswell and Wilma Messing Jr., who provided the initial funding for the prize. The St. Louis Literary Award recognizes a living writer with a substantial body of work that has enriched our literary heritage by deepening our insight into the human condition and by expanding the scope of our compassion. It is presented annually by the Saint Louis University Libraries.

Members of the SLU community are encouraged to submit nominations for the 2026 award by Monday, June 3.

Submit a nomination

2024 Award Winner: Jamaica Kincaid

The Saint Louis University Libraries will honor the renowned Jamaica Kincaid at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at Sheldon Concert Hall. Tickets for the event are on sale now at the Metrotix website

Register now

Kincaid will also participate in an author craft talk at 10 a.m. Friday, April 26, at the Anheuser-Busch Auditorium in Cook Hall on the Saint Louis University campus. More information on registration will be released closer to the date.

The Antigua-born Kincaid explores themes of colonialism, gender and sexuality, racism, class, and familial relationships in her work. She came to the United States as a teenager and as a young woman began writing columns and stories for Ingénue, The Village Voice and Ms. Her work has also appeared in The Paris Review and The New Yorker. Kincaid published her first book in 1983, “At the Bottom of the River” is a collection of short stories and reflections. She is the author of the novels “Annie John,” “Lucy,” and “See Now Then,” and the more personal books.“ The Autobiography of My Mother,""Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya,” and “My Brother,” which explores the death from AIDS of her younger brother. She has been nominated for the National Book Award and is a recipient of a Guggenheim grant. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. Kincaid is a professor in the African and African American Studies department as well as the Department of English at Harvard University. 

Recipients of the Saint Louis Literary Award

The list of awardees of this prize reflects numerous Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and National Book Award recipients.

  • 1999: Chinua Achebe
  • 1998: Seamus Heaney
  • 1997: Stephen E. Ambrose
  • 1996: Antonia Fraser
  • 1995: Edward Albee
  • 1994: Stephen Jay Gould
  • 1993: David McCullough
  • 1992: Shelby Foote
  • 1991: August Wilson
  • 1990: Tom Wolfe
  • 1989: Richard Purdy Wilbur
  • 1988: Joyce Carol Oates
  • 1987: John Updike
  • 1986: Saul Bellow
  • 1985: Walker Percy
  • 1984: No Recipient
  • 1983: Eudora Welty
  • 1982: William Styron
  • 1981: James A. Michener
  • 1980: Arthur Miller
  • 1979: Howard Nemerov
  • 1978: Mortimer J. Adler
  • 1977: Robert Penn Warren
  • 1976: R. Buckminster Fuller
  • 1975: John Hope Franklin
  • 1974: Tennessee Williams
  • 1973: James T. Farrell
  • 1972: Francis Warner
  • 1971: Barbara Tuchman
  • 1970: W. H. Auden
  • 1969: George Plimpton
  • 1968: Jacques Barzun
  • 1967: Henry Steele Commager