World Literature Today, the award-winning international literature and culture magazine, today announced the schedule of public activities associated with the 2015 Neustadt Festival, to be hosted at the University of Oklahoma Norman campus October 21-23. The festival will honor the 2015 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature laureate, Meshack Asare of Ghana and Germany.
Asare is considered to be one of the most important children’s authors and illustrators in the African region. His works have been widely honored internationally, with the NSK Neustadt Prize being his first major recognition in the United States.
Events associated with the festival will both honor Asare’s works and Ghanaian heritage as well as set the stage for the next year’s festival honoring the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature winner, who will be announced on Friday, October 23.
Commonly known as “America’s Nobel” for its reputation as a forerunner to the Swedish Academy’s annual decision, the prestigious Neustadt Prize is considered one of the most important American awards for literature. Nine international poets, playwrights, and novelists will gather in Norman that week to champion the cause of their respective candidates for the Neustadt Prize, and they will all give public readings or talks during their time on campus.
Festival highlights open to the public include:
- Aug. 4 – Dec. 31, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
- Exhibition of Ghanaian art tied to the theme of Meshack Asare’s award-winning Kwajo and the Brassman’s Secret.
Wednesday, Oct. 21
- 3 – 4 p.m., Hester Hall 145, co-sponsored by OU’s Iranian Studies Program:
- A talk by Porochista Khakpour, “Reimagining the Shahnameh in Persian Literature”
- 4 – 5 p.m., Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Auditorium, co-sponsored by OU’s African Studies Institute:
- A talk by Mukoma Wa Ngugi, “The Manufacture and Rise of the African Novel: Language, Identity, and the Politics of Ownership”
- 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art:
- Opening reception and readings by members of the 2016 Neustadt Prize jury
Friday, Oct. 23
- 9:30 – 10:20 a.m., Meacham Auditorium, Oklahoma Memorial Union:
- Roundtable discussion with a panel of experts exploring Asare’s works in the context of West African culture
- 10:30 – 11 a.m., Meacham Auditorium:
- A performance of African drumming by Jahruba
- 11 a.m. – 12 p.m., Meacham Auditorium:
- Keynote address by NSK laureate Meshack Asare
- 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., Sandy Bell Gallery, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, co-sponsored by the OU School of Drama:
- Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill discusses 21st century theater
In addition to public events, Norman-area middle school students will be treated to a special opportunity. Select students will participate in creative-writing and illustration workshops taught by Ghanaian writers Nii Ayikwei Parkes and Meshack Asare, a rare opportunity to learn from acclaimed authors.
To learn more about the $25,000 NSK Neustadt Prize or the $50,000 Neustadt International Prize, see the full calendar of events, or request a press pass, visit neustadtprize.org. For accommodations on the basis of disability, call 405-325-4531.
About the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature
The NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature is awarded every other year to a living writer or illustrator with significant achievement in children’s or young adult literature. Made possible through the generosity of Nancy Barcelo, Susan Neustadt Schwartz and Kathy Neustadt and sponsored by World Literature Today, the NSK Prize celebrates literature that contributes to the quality of children’s lives. A jury of children’s literature peer authors nominates candidates and selects the winner of each biennial prize.
About the Neustadt International Prize for Literature
The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is a $50,000 biennial prize funded by a generous endowment from the Neustadt family of Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Dallas. The Neustadt Prize is the first international literary award of its scope to originate in the United States and is one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists and playwrights are equally eligible. The charter of the award stipulates that the Neustadt Prize be conferred solely on the basis of literary merit, and each laureate is chosen by a jury of writers that World Literature Today convenes on the University of Oklahoma campus.
About World Literature Today
Founded in 1927, World Literature Today is the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning magazine of international literature and culture. The mission of WLT is to serve the international, state and university communities by achieving excellence as a literary publication, a sponsor of literary prizes and a cultural center for students. Now in its ninth decade of continuous publication, WLT has been recognized by the Nobel Prize committee as one of the “best edited and most informative literary publications” in the world, and was recently called “an excellent source of writings from around the globe by authors who write as if their lives depend on it” (Utne Reader).
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