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National Award for the Arts Writing Finalists Are Announced

The National Award for Arts Writing, now in its second year, is one of the highest monetary awards for a single book in the U.S. and the only prize celebrating writing that makes the arts more accessible to a general audience. The Arts Club of Washington, a non-profit organization that sponsors the award, has named five books as finalists.

The Award of $15,000 recognizes books published in 2007. The five finalists are:

Chance and Circumstance: Twenty Years with Cage and Cunningham by Carolyn Brown A memoir by a premiere dancer in, and founding member of, the Merce Cunningham dance company. (Alfred A. Knopf)

Nature\’s Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick by Jenny Uglow A biography of the naturalist and engraver, with an emphasis on the social and political context of his life in rural England, 1753-1828. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross Musical analysis and profiles of 20th century composers by the New Yorker’s classical music critic. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in 19th-Century America by Nigel Cliff The former theatre critic for the London Times tells the story of the deadly clash over Shakespearean interpretation in the streets of New York, as the U.S. struggled to find its cultural voice. (Random House)

To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip-Hop Aesthetic by William Jelani Cobb Examination of the aesthetic, stylistic, and thematic evolution of hip hop from its inception in the South Bronx to the present era, by a noted historian. (New York University Press)

A group of three distinguished judges will make the final determination: former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, award-winning novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and America\’s foremost librarian, Nancy Pearl. The Arts Club will announce the award-winning book in the spring with a series of events, including a reception announcing the winner on Thursday, April 17, and three events in mid-May with the winning author: a public reading, a dinner party open to Arts Club members, and a classroom visit by the author to a local public DC school.

The National Award for Arts Writing is given annually by the Arts Club of Washington in recognition of excellence in writing about the arts for a broad audience. The Award is intended to help increase access to the arts. It celebrates prose that is lucid, luminous, clear and inspiring – writing that creates a strong connection with art and artists.

About the Arts Club of Washington: The mission of the Arts Club of Washington is to generate public appreciation for and participation in the arts in the nation’s capital, through ongoing educational programs that include seminars, literary events, art exhibitions, and musical and theatrical performances. The club, founded in 1916, also is dedicated to promoting the appreciation of historic preservation through study, restoration, and the preservation of the historic James Monroe House.


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