Out of Darkness, Shining Light Wins 2020 Chautauqua Prize

CHQPrize 2020 winner

Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce Petina Gappah’s Out of Darkness, Shining Light(Scribner) as the 2020 winner of The Chautauqua Prize.

As author of the winning book, Gappah receives $7,500,and will be presented with the Prize — and give a public reading — duringcelebratory event at a date to be determined as part of Chautauqua Institution’s online assembly season this summer.

Gappah’s powerful novel of exploration and adventure in 19th-century Africa, Out of Darkness, Shining Light is a captivating story of those who carried explorer and missionary Dr. David Livingstone’s body across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England. “Rather than repeating the usual legend of the Livingstone expedition, Gappah reinvents the story to reveal the tyranny and complexity of colonial power,” one reader wrote, and the author’s “inspired treatment and graceful prose breathes life into her riveting account.” Another called the work a “Homer-esque, cross-cultural mini-epic; … the odyssey itself is a pleasure in prose.”

Gappah said she was “delighted” to accept the 2020 Chautauqua Prize:

“My primary identity is that of a reader, so it is wonderful to receive an award that is given to books that offer a ‘richly rewarding reading experience,’” Gappah said. “I am grateful that through the power of this award, Livingstone’s companions will now travel to readers who might otherwise not have heard of them. Thank you so much to Chautauqua Institution for this honor, but most of all, thank you for your abiding belief in the power of literature.”

Press Kit:
Full press release | Book Cover | The Chautauqua Prize logo (pdf)

The Chautauqua Prize 2020 Finalists

Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce seven exceptional books as the 2020 finalists for The Chautauqua Prize, now in its ninth year:

CHQPrize Finalists web 2020 Dekel

CHQPrize Finalists web 2020 Forche

CHQPrize Finalists web 2020 Gappah

CHQPrize Finalists web 2020 Goldberg

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)

Out of Darkness, Shining Light
by Petina Gappah

Feast Your Eyes
by Myla Goldberg

 CHQPrize Finalists web 2020 Hammad

 CHQPrize Finalists web 2020 Perry

 CHQPrize Finalists web 2020 Sudbanthad


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)