CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — May 15, 2014 — Chautauqua Institution is delighted to announce “My Foreign Cities” (Liveright) by Elizabeth Scarboro as the 2014 winner of The Chautauqua Prize.

As author of the winning book, Scarboro receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at CHQ. She will host a public reading and book signing at a date to be determined this summer on the Institution grounds.  


“I’m deeply honored to have a small part in CHQ’s long, vibrant tradition of education in the arts, and I'm thrilled to get the chance to visit the CHQ community,” said Scarboro, who has also written two novels for children and essays for The New York Times and the Bellevue Literary Review. “The prize will give me the chance to begin new work, and will bring recognition to the subject of my book — those who face illness and loss at a young age. I’m so grateful for both.”

The Chautauqua Prize, this year awarded for the third time, is an annual prize that celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts.

A portrait of a young couple approaching mortality with reckless abandon, “My Foreign Cities” is Scarboro’s memoir of her life with her first husband Stephen, whose cystic fibrosis would be present in the background throughout their time together — and then ever more insistently in the foreground. Chautauqua Prize readers called the book “A deeply moving, incredibly honest story of embracing life while confronting certain death,” and described Scarboro’s prose as “poetic.”

“‘My Foreign Cities’ is such an important and courageous book, and we are so proud to recognize it and Elizabeth Scarboro with the 2014 Chautauqua Prize,” said Sherra Babcock, who oversees the prize selection process as vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education at Chautauqua Institution. “The Chautauqua Prize is designed to celebrate both the reading experience and the craft of writing and ‘My Foreign Cities’ is a superb example of both.”

“My Foreign Cities” was chosen from a finalist shortlist that includes five other exceptional titles: “A History of the Present Illness: Stories” (Bloomsbury) by Louise Aronson; “Sea of Hooks” (McPherson & Company) by Lindsay Hill; “The Boy Detective: A New York Childhood” (Ecco) by Roger Rosenblatt; “The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency” (Simon & Schuster) by James Tobin; and “Wash” (Grove Press) by Margaret Wrinkle.

Chautauqua Institution received 155 books from 78 publishers as nominations for the 2014 Chautauqua Prize, each evaluated by three reviewers representing a panel of Chautauquans who qua Prize, each evaluated by three reviewers representing a panel of Chautauquans who are professionally involved with books and the literary arts. Twenty-nine titles received recommendations from at least two of the three reviewers and advanced to the longlist stage. A three-person, independent, anonymous jury chose the finalists and winner.  

The hallmark of The Chautauqua Prize is its focus not only on the literary quality or the writing, but on the reading experience as judged by thoughtful, experienced CHQ readers.  

With a history steeped in the literary arts, Chautauqua Institution is home to the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, founded in 1878, which honors nine outstanding books of fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry every summer. “My Foreign Cities” will count toward members’ reading lists, though not officially designated as a CLSC selection, ensuring continued readership by thousands of active readers.  

Further literary arts programming at CHQ includes summer-long interaction of published and aspiring writers at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, the intensive workshops of the nationally recognized Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, the literary journal ‘Chautauqua,’ and lectures by prominent authors on the art and craft of writing.

Details on The Chautauqua Prize are available online at Books published in 2014 will be accepted as submissions for the 2015 prize beginning in September 2014.