The Chautauqua Prize
The Chautauqua Prize is a national 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.
Having and Being Had Wins 2021 Chautauqua Prize
CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution today proudly announces Having and Being Had (Riverhead Books) by Eula Biss as the 2021 winner of The Chautauqua Prize.
As author of the winning book, Biss receives $7,500, and will be presented with the Prize — and give a public reading — during a celebratory event set for 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, on the digital CHQ Assembly platform.
Having just purchased her first home, in Having and Being Had the poet and essayist Eula Biss embarks on a provocative and delightful exploration of the value system she has bought into. Examining our assumptions about class and property and the lure of capitalism, Biss offers an uncommonly immersive and deeply revealing new portrait of work and luxury, of accumulation and consumption, of the value of time and how we spend it. Chautauqua Prize readers described Biss as “a provocative thinker who has constructed a book about possessions, economic systems, work, class, money that is lyrical in tone,” and whose writing “encourages us to sit and think in uncomfortable psychic spaces.” “The writing,” another reader wrote, “is simply terrific.”
“I’m tremendously grateful for this recognition of the thought and work that went into Having and Being Had,” Biss said. “This prize comes at a moment when I’m reimagining my work life, and it is particularly meaningful coming from an institution with such a long history of supporting artists who are pursuing their craft.”
The Chautauqua Prize 2021 Finalists
Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce eight exceptional books as the 2021 finalists for The Chautauqua Prize, now in its tenth year:
Having and Being Had
by Eula Biss
The Night Watchman
by Louise Erdrich
The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories
by Danielle Evans
by Yaa Gyasi
(Alfred A. Knopf)
by Andrew Krivak
(Bellevue Literary Press)
Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir
by Natasha Trethewey
Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South
by Matthew Van Meter
How Much of These Hills is Gold
by C Pam Zhang
Winners & Shortlists
Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah (Scribner)
- Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey by Mikhal Dekel (W.W. Norton)
- What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché (Penguin Press)
- Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg (Scribner)
- The Parisian by Isabella Hammad (Grove Press)
- Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry (Beacon Press)
- Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad (Riverhead Books)
All the Names They Used for God: Stories by Anjali Sachdeva (Spiegel & Grau)
- Little by Edward Carey (Riverhead Books)
- The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth by Ken Krimstein (Bloomsbury)
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (Scribner)
- The Overstory by Richard Powers (W.W. Norton)
- Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush (Milkweed Editions)
- The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop (Grove Press)
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (Flatiron Books)
- Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel (Bloomsbury)
- The Futilitarians: Our Year of Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, and Reading by Anne Gisleson (Little, Brown)
- The Wanderers by Meg Howrey (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
- The Signal Flame by Andrew Krivák (Scribner)
- The Worlds We Think We Know by Dalia Rosenfeld (Milkweed Editions)
The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- The General vs. The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands (Doubleday)
- Blood River Rising: The Thompson-Crimson Feud of the 1920s by Victoria Pope Hubbell (Iris Press)
- Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (Mulholland Books)
- American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good by Colin Woodard (Viking)
- The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father by Kao Kalia Yang (Metropolitan Books)
Off the Radar: A Father’s Secret, a Mother’s Heroism, and a Son’s Quest by Cyrus Copeland (Blue Rider Press)
- It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario (The Penguin Press)
- King of the Gypsies: Stories by Lenore Myka (BkMk Press)
- Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God by Steven Nightingale (Counterpoint Press)
- Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard (Viking)
- No. 4 Imperial Lane by Jonathan Weisman (Twelve Books)
Redeployment by Phil Klay (The Penguin Press)
- The Map Thief by Michael Blanding (Gotham/Avery)
- Byrd by Kim Church (Dzanc Books)
- The Bully of Order by Brian Hart (HarperCollins)
- Euphoria by Lily King (Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly)
- All Eyes Are Upon Us by Jason Sokol (Basic Books)
- The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer (Harper)
- The Witch by Jean Thompson (Blue Rider Press)
My Foreign Cities by Elizabeth Scarboro (Liveright)
- A History of the Present Illness: Stories by Louise Aronson (Bloomsbury)
- Sea of Hooks by Lindsay Hill (McPherson & Company)
- The Boy Detective:
- A New York Childhood by Roger Rosenblatt (Ecco)
- The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency by James Tobin (Simon & Schuster)
- Wash by Margaret Wrinkle (Grove Press)
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Ecco)
- The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy (Simon & Schuster)
- Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King (Harper)
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Ecco)
- The Name of Things by John Colman Wood (Ashland Creek Press)
The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak (Bellevue Literary Press)
- Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)
- In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (Crown)
- Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking)
- All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen (The Permanent Press)
- We Are Taking Only What We Need by Stephanie Powell Watts (BkMk Press)
- Eligible books are those published first, or simultaneously, in the United States, in English, in 2020, and made available in hardcover or bound paperback form for purchase by the general public. Date of first publication, not copyright date, applies.
- Full-length books of fiction and narrative/literary nonfiction are eligible. Nonfiction may include history, science, religion, memoir, biography, journalism, and all sub-genres of creative nonfiction.
- Collections of short stories and collections of essays by one author are eligible.
- Authors who have or have not been honored previously at Chautauqua Institution, and who have won or have not won other book awards, are eligible.
- Any author of an eligible book, including previous winners, is eligible for consideration each year.
- Authors are eligible to receive the prize without regard to nationality or residence.
- The author must be living at the time of the closing date for entries (December 15, 2020). In the case of a book by two authors, at least one of the authors must be alive on this date.
- Several chapters may have been published previously in magazines or journals, but most of the work must be original to the nominated book with the exception of short story and essay collections.
- The following books are not eligible:
- An English translation of a book written originally in any other language is not eligible.
- Self-published books are not eligible. Chautauqua Institution follows the guidelines set by the National Endowment for the Arts, which qualifies self-publishing as work from presses that: “require individual writers to pay for part or all of the production costs; require writers to buy or sell copies of the publication; publish work without competitive selection or a stated editorial policy; or publish work without professional editing.”
- Anonymous authors are not eligible.
- Anthologies containing work written by multiple authors are not eligible.
- A reprint of a book published in a previous award year is not eligible.
- In general, cookbooks, self-help books (including inspirational literature), reference books, picture books, graphic novels, or children’s books are not eligible.
- In the event of a question as to eligibility, Chautauqua Institution will decide whether a book is eligible, and its decision will be binding. No correspondence will be required, and books and entry fees will not be returned.
- Selected longlist authors and publishers will be notified in February, and will be required to:
- Designate a week in summer 2021 when the author could accept The Chautauqua Prize at Chautauqua Institution (if selected), at which time the prize winner will give a 30-minute acceptance/reading at an event held in their honor.
- Grant permission (if selected) to reproduce portions of the book for Chautauqua publicity purposes, with no additional remuneration.
- Grant permission (if selected) for Chautauqua Institution to film his or her acceptance talk, and make it available to the public, for sale or not for sale, with no additional remuneration.
Updated Aug. 21, 2020
After each nominated eligible book is evaluated by three Chautauquan reviewers, the shortlist and winner are chosen by an independent, anonymous jury.
- Publishers (including trade, university, and small presses), agents, readers, or authors may submit books published in 2020 by living writers.
- The 2021 prize is open to any book of original fiction or narrative/literary nonfiction, written in English.
- Books must be published in the United States between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. This means that the first publication must have been during that period. A paperback publication date does not count if that was not the first publication.
- Multiple entries may be submitted.
- Entries must include the following materials — no exceptions:
- An official entry form (or facsimile) for each title entered. Click here for a PDF download of the entry form.
- Eight (8) copies of each title entered, either published works or bound galleys. Please mark prominently: 2021 Chautauqua Prize material.
- Official entry forms must be accompanied by the entry fee of $75, paid by the nominator and payable by check or money order to Chautauqua Institution.
- The postmark deadline for entry form is December 15, 2020. Books must be received by December 15, 2020.
- Nominators who wish the Institution to acknowledge receipt of their entry materials should enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard or envelope.
- Longlist finalists are notified in February. At that time, they are asked to provide biographies and pictures, and to identify summer dates in which they could visit Chautauqua Institution to accept the award in person (a requirement of the prize). The winner and shortlist finalists are notified in April. They are also required to accept conditions noted as No. 9 below.
- Nominators agree that the decision of Chautauqua Institution and/or the judges will be final as to all matters, including eligibility, timelines of submissions, and compliance with these submission guidelines. Selected author and publisher must grant the permanent right in any and all media throughout the world to use all promotional and publicity rights in connection with their participation in the Chautauqua Prize competition, for use of their respective photographs, names, likenesses, voice, or appearances in connection with The Chautauqua Prize; and each consents to the permanent right of Chautauqua Institution to publish or broadcast the author’s acceptance speech without further consent or payment. Finalists grant the right that the book, author and publisher may be named in CHQ’s announcements.
- Books not accompanied by entry form will not be considered or returned.
- Nominators may send books by U.S. mail or express courier. Chautauqua Institution cannot be responsible for replacing items that are lost in transit. Nominators are encouraged to submit entries and copies well in advance of the deadline.
- Books will not be returned. Unused books, if any, will be donated to local public and school libraries as appropriate.
- Nothing in these guidelines shall be deemed to limit in any way the authority and control of Chautauqua Institution.
- For more information, please contact:
Department of Education
P.O. Box 28
1 Ames Ave.
Chautauqua, NY 14722
Department of Education
P.O. Box 28
1 Ames Ave.
Chautauqua, NY 14722
Updated Aug. 21, 2020
- Each nominated eligible book is evaluated by three reviewers, representing a panel of Chautauquans who are writers, publishers, critics, editors, librarians, booksellers, and literature and creative writing educators. Books are distributed in a deliberate random fashion. If a reviewer self-discloses a concern that s/he cannot review a particular assigned book fairly, the submission is reassigned to a different reviewer.
- The reviewers read and recommend independently of each other and the staff at Chautauqua Institution.
- Books must be advanced for the finalist longlist by two of the three reviewers.
- Shortlist and winner are chosen by an independent, anonymous jury. Each jury member may also advance one selection to the finalist longlist.
- The task of the jury is to select books that, in their opinion, best fulfill the purpose of the prize.
- The jury’s choice of winners is binding and final.
Updated Aug. 21, 2020
Chautauqua Institution, dedicated to the exploration of the best of human values and to the enrichment of life, is the pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States.
More than 100,000 persons who visit Chautauqua during the 2019 season will note the honor of this selection, and The Chautauqua Prize winner and shortlist will be announced through broadcast, print and online media. Chautauqua’s singular multigenerational community offers artistic articulation, social and cultural conversations, and global and national interfaith and political awareness opportunities through approximately 2,200 events staged each summer at our lakeside location in western New York. Our national reach includes book clubs, civic and faith organizations, schools, libraries, and colleges and universities. International Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circles include Japan, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
- Chautauqua attracts 4,000-plus in daily audiences for literary-themed weeks and special events:
- Literary-themed weeks in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018, with panelists and keynote speakers including Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Margaret Atwood, Derek Bok, Sissela Bok, Tom Brokaw, Billy Collins, E.L. Doctorow, Anne Fadiman, Jules Feiffer, Emma Walton Hamilton, John Irving, Norman Lear, Jim Lehrer, Alice McDermott, Marsha Norman, Joyce Carol Oates, Ann Patchett, Jane Pauley, Roger Rosenblatt, Elizabeth Strout, Garry Trudeau, Amy Tan, and Meg Wolitzer.
- Recent special events and literary lectures include David McCullough (2016), Anthony Doerr (2015), Margaret Atwood (2013), Billy Collins (2016, 2013 & 2010), Ted Kooser (2012), Dan Brown (2011), Stanley Fish (2011), Azar Nafisi (2011), Salman Rushdie (2010), Robert Pinsky (2009)
- The Chautauqua Bookstore often sells hundreds of books for an individual book signing. The Chautauqua Bookstore reports sales to The New York Times. We also track our effect on Amazon.com. Thousands of sales result from a Chautauqua connection.
- Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, founded in 1878 and the oldest continuous U.S. reading course, honors nine to 10 CLSC selections each summer, which feature book cover designation on onsite sales, author honorarium plus visit to Chautauqua, several hundred books sold at Chautauqua Bookstore, plus documented Amazon sales resulting from CLSC designation. Honored writers include Karen Armstrong, Margaret Atwood, Geraldine Brooks, Susan Choi, Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Lynch, Ha Jin, Stanley Kunitz, Bill McKibben, Philipp Meyer, Robert Morgan, Joyce Carol Oates, Téa Obreht, Michael Ondaatje, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Tobias Wolfe and David Wroblewski. Click here for a PDF download of the CLSC Historic Book List.
- Chautauqua Writers’ Center, founded in 1987, offers 20-plus workshops each summer (from published writers who also teach writing), weekly readings and lectures, plus occasional presentations on publishing, book-to-film, writing for specific audiences, and collaborations with other Institution entities (i.e., Jewish Writing Festival with Everett Jewish Life Center). A preseason Writers’ Festival attracts 72 participants in six intensive workshops.
- Special Studies classes (adult continuing education) attract more than 1,000 students in literature and writing courses each summer.
- Literary programs are afforded opportunities for collaboration with other expressions of the arts on the Chautauqua Institution grounds, including Chautauqua Theater Company, Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, Everett Jewish Life Center at Chautauqua, and youth programs.
- The Chautauqua literary journal publishes original, previously unpublished works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Works chosen embody the vision of Chautauqua, as much a philosophy and an aesthetic as a physical place, whose soul lies in the American passion for self-improvement — the drive to enrich oneself culturally, artistically, morally, and intellectually.
Updated August 8, 2019
Readers of Chautauqua
From the toddler whose grandparents are helping choose her first book to the octogenarian devouring the uncountable, Chautauquans have an extraordinary involvement with the written word.
The Chautauqua Prize is distinctive in that its audience is a group of readers who grasp the relationship between the book and its audience, the author and the reader. The Chautauqua reader is compelled to question, and recognizes the sense of place, the sharply drawn character, and the storytelling power of a great work of literary/narrative nonfiction or fiction.
Updated August 8, 2019
There is no other implicit or explicit relationship between The Chautauqua Prize and other Chautauqua Institution literary programs.
- The Chautauqua Prize is separate from the other literary offerings of Chautauqua Institution. Authors and lecturers who have appeared previously at Chautauqua are eligible for The Chautauqua Prize.
- The book that wins The Chautauqua Prize, while not officially designated as a selection of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, will count as a book that can be read for CLSC graduation and Guild of Seven Seals reading designations, which ensures continued readership into the future by thousands of active readers in this program.
- Books chosen as CLSC selections may be considered for The Chautauqua Prize, and Chautauqua Prize winners may be considered for CLSC selection, as long as all conditions for eligibility for selection in both programs are met.
- The obligation of the author who wins The Chautauqua Prize is an appearance and acceptance speech for the prize, with an optional public reading and book signing. If the winning author is asked for an Amphitheater, master class, or CLSC lecture, that appearance will be requested and compensated separately.
- There is no other implicit or explicit relationship between The Chautauqua Prize and other Chautauqua Institution literary programs.