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Michael Chabon Receives the 2020 St. Louis Literary Award

by Maggie Rotermund on 04/15/2021
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Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Chabon was honored Thursday, April 15, with the 2020 St. Louis Literary Award. He received the honor in a virtual ceremony which featured a conversation between Chabon and St. Louis native Jon Hamm. 

Chabon is the author of best-selling books including The Mysteries of Pittsburg, Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

Hamm and Chabon dove into the discipline required to be a writer, something Chabon said he learned from a roommate during his time in graduate school. His roommate, who was about 10 years older than Chabon, would rise each morning at 6 a.m. to start writing.

“I was shamed into having discipline - if he could do it, what was my excuse?”  he said. “It really is about the discipline. What happens to you and your work - whether you find a publisher, if you have talent, if you have good luck - all this things can impact you. Good discipline is completely in your control.”

Chabon was born in 1963 in Washington, D.C. His first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, was originally written for his master’s thesis at U.C. Irvine and became a New York Times bestseller. Chabon’s second novel, Wonder Boys, was also a bestseller, and was made into a critically acclaimed film featuring actors Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire.

Chabon is the lead writer for “Star Trek: Picard.” He and his wife, writer Ayelet Waldman, are the writers and executive producers for the Netflix series, “Unbelievable” as well as the Showtime series of “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.”

Other notable awards for Chabon include the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, National Book Critics Circle, Hugo, Nebula, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Pen/Faulkner, and National Jewish Book Award among many others in a career spanning more than 30 years.

Before the virtual book talk Toby Benis, Ph.D., department chair in English, presented SLU student Natalie Whitaker with the Von Kaenel Memorial Walter J. Ong, S.J. award for Excellence in Student Research. 

The event also featured three St. Louis bands performing musical works associated with Chabon’s work Telegraph Avenue.

They included:

Chabon also participated in a Craft Talk Friday, April 16, with Nancy Bell, the director of the Theatre Program at Saint Louis University.

St. Louis Literary Award

The St. Louis Literary Award is presented annually by the Saint Louis University Library Associates and has become one of the top literary prizes in the country. The award honors a writer who deepens our insight into the human condition and expands the scope of our compassion. Some of the most important writers of the 20th and 21st centuries have come to Saint Louis University to accept the honor, including Margaret Atwood, Salmon Rushdie, Eudora Welty, John Updike, Saul Bellow, August Wilson, Stephen Sondheim and Tom Wolfe.

Saint Louis University Library Associates

One of the oldest literary and cultural organizations in St. Louis, the Saint Louis University Library Associates seeks to build a closer relationship between the University and the community and to promote an appreciation for the value of literature. The Library Associates work to enhance the visibility of the Saint Louis University Libraries and to support the development of their world-class collections and services.