Schedule unveiled for virtual Cleveland Book Week 2021; hour-long Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards show to air on WVIZ/PBS

86th class of winners to be featured in documentary-style production


The Cleveland Foundation today announced the schedule for the sixth annual Cleveland Book Week. This year’s showcase – expanded beyond its usual timeframe – will celebrate present and past Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (AWBA) winners over the distinguished 86-year history of the award. The week’s far-ranging programs will all have virtual options and nearly all are free to the community.

Anchoring the events is “The 86th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards,” a crisp, beautiful documentary hosted by AWBA Chair Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. It debuts at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14, on WVIZ/PBS and throughout Ohio’s public television network. The book awards remain the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and explores human diversity. The 2021 honorees are:

Vincent Brown, “Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of An Atlantic Slave War,” co-winner, Nonfiction
Victoria Chang, “Obit,” Poetry
Samuel R. Delany, Lifetime Achievement
James McBride, “Deacon King Kong,” Fiction
Natasha Trethewey, “Memorial Drive,” co-winner, Nonfiction

“We are thrilled to renew our partnership with Ideastream Public Media to give lovers of the written word this fresh and timely documentary,” said Karen R. Long, who manages the awards for the Cleveland Foundation. “It gives viewers entree into the insights of five unparalleled writers, who, in this era of global racial awakening, can spark our humanity and help reforge our civic purpose.”

The Cleveland Foundation and Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards are presenting Cleveland Book Week in partnership with the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), Cleveland Public Library, the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, The City Club of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Public Library, the Great Lakes African American Writers Conference and Ursuline College.

For more information on Cleveland Book Week (#CBW2021) and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards (#AWBA2021), visit

Events scheduled for Cleveland Book Week 2021 include (visit the website for the latest updates):

Tuesday, Sept. 14

Ideastream Public Media PBS documentary: “The 86th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards”
9 p.m. on WVIZ/PBS, concurrent with website streaming and other PBS broadcasts
The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognize books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and human diversity. It remains the only American book prize focusing on works that address racism and equity. For more than 80 years, the distinguished books earning Anisfield-Wolf prizes have opened and challenged our minds.
For more information:

Monday, Sept. 27

A conversation with Mira Jacob
7 p.m., Cuyahoga County Public Library (virtual conversation)
Presented as part of the “Beyond the Book Jacket” series, Jacob is the author of “Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations” and the critically acclaimed novel “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing.”
For more information:

CIFF Streams + AWBA
11 a.m.-11 p.m., “End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock” (virtual viewing)
A group of indigenous women risk their lives to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline construction that desecrated their ancient burial and prayer sites and threatens their land, water, and very existence.
For more information:

Tuesday, Sept. 28

CIFF Streams + AWBA
11 a.m.-11 p.m., “Down a Dark Stairwell” (virtual viewing)
A Chinese American cop shoots and kills an innocent Black man; suddenly two marginalized communities must navigate an uneven criminal justice system together.
For more information:

Wednesday, Sept. 29

CIFF Streams + AWBA
11 a.m.-11 p.m., “Voodoo Macbeth” (virtual viewing)
In 1936 Harlem, the first all-Black cast production of “Macbeth” struggles to make it to opening night amid the downward spiral of their young and untested director – Orson Welles. Feature film.
For more information:

Ayana Gray presented by the Cleveland Public Library
6:30 p.m., Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (39000 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109; virtual option also available)
Gray, the author of highly acclaimed Young Adult novel “Beasts of Prey,” discusses her work in the breathtaking Rainforest at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. “Beasts of Prey” is the much-anticipated series opener revealing the fate which binds two Black teenagers as they strike a dangerous alliance to hunt down the ancient creature menacing their home—and discover much more than they bargained for.
For more information:

Richard Powers: The William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series
7:30 p.m., Maltz Performing Arts Center (1855 Ansel Rd., Cleveland, OH 44106, virtual option also available)
The Writers Center Stage Series is presented by the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation and Case Western Reserve University. Richard Powers, the prolific writer and award-winning author of 12 novels, is known for his exploration of modern science and technology. Power’s “The Overstory” won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. His new novel is “Bewildered.” For more information:

Thursday, Sept. 30

CIFF Streams + AWBA
11 a.m.-11 p.m., “The 86th Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards” (virtual viewing)
The 86th Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards is a crisp, beautiful documentary hosted by AWBA Chair Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. It features the recipients of the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and explores human diversity. Sample the insights, and exquisite writing, of the five 2021 winners, delivered in their own voices.
For more information:

Friday, Oct. 1

CIFF Streams + AWBA
11 a.m.-11 p.m., “Apart” (virtual viewing)
In the Midwest, against the backdrop of the opioid epidemic and rising incarceration rates, three women face the challenges of mothering their children from prison and preparing to reunite with their families and rebuild after years of separation.
For more information:

CIFF Streams + AWBA Shorts Program 1
11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Eight different shorts (virtual viewing)
For more information:

CIFF Streams + AWBA Shorts Program 2
11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Eight different shorts (virtual viewing)
For more information:

Saturday, Oct. 2

CIFF Streams + AWBA
11 a.m.-11 p.m., “Best Summer Ever” (virtual viewing)
A fresh and exhilarating take on the beloved teen musical genre featuring eight original songs and a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities. Feature film.
For more information:
For a version of “Best Summer Ever” that contains an audio description for the visually impaired:

Deesha Philyaw Langston Hughes Literary Keynote
11 a.m., Great Lakes African American Writers Conference (virtual conversation)
Philyaw’s debut short story collection, “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and a 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; the collection was also a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. Join the three-day GLAAW conference, where literary creatives from throughout the Great Lakes region will gather virtually to learn from and network with influential publishing industry professionals from hubs including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
For more information:

Sunday, Oct. 3

CIFF Streams + AWBA
11 a.m.-11 p.m., “Landfall” (virtual viewing)
After the landfall of Hurricane María in 2017, Puerto Rico grapples with a devastated infrastructure and multi-billion-dollar debt as outside investors descend—not to bail out communities, but to cash in. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the US colony’s governor in 2019, “Landfall” shares kaleidoscopic glimpses of collective trauma and resistance.
For more information:

Friday, Oct. 15

NEOMFA Reading Series: Victoria Chang (2021 AWBA Poetry Winner) & Shane McCrae (2018 AWBA Poetry Winner)
7 p.m., Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Reading Series (virtual conversation)
Join the NEOMFA Reading Series for a reading, conversation, and Q&A featuring a pair of Anisfield-Wolf winning poets. Chang won this year for “Obit,” while McCrae was the 2018 winner for “In the Language of My Captor.” Chang wrote the introduction to the new edition of “Mule,” McCrae’s first poetry collection.
For more information:

Thursday, Oct. 28

Natasha Trethewey (2021 AWBA Nonfiction Co-Winner) leads a conversation of “Memorial Drive”
Noon, Ursuline College (virtual conversation)
Join the campus-wide read of former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey’s “Memorial Drive,” praised as an instant classic. The memoir explores her mother’s life and death and the abiding tie between the two women. Trethewey writes of how her mother came to die at the hands of a former husband when the author was 19, as well as the Mississippi context that formed and informed both women.
For more information:

Tuesday, Nov. 16

War and Empire: The world-wide reverberations of Jamaica’s 18th century slave revolts
Noon, The City Club of Cleveland (virtual conversation)
Novelist Marlon James (2015 AWBA Fiction Winner) and historian Vincent Brown (2021 AWBA Nonfiction Co-Winner) will crack open their ideas in a unique conversation centered on Jamaica. The island is a lynchpin in world history, and a wellspring of world culture. Both men won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in this vein: James in 2015 for “A Brief History of Seven Killings” and Brown this year for “Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War.”
For more information:

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