Winner of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014, the late Ursula K Le Guin explained how “hard times are coming, when we will want the voices of writers who can see alternatives to writing. the way we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope ”. Seven years later, a new literary prize was launched by his estate to honor these authors.
The Ursula K Le Guin Prize for Fiction will be presented for the first time next year, on October 21, which would have been the 93rd birthday of author Earthsea. Valued at $ 25,000 (£ 18,000), it will go towards a work of “imaginative fiction,” with the intention of recognizing the writers Le Guin spoke about in his 2014 acceptance speech. the time that she shared the medal with “all the writers who have been excluded from literature for so long – my fellow fantasy and science fiction writers, writers of the imagination, who for 50 years have watched the beauties. rewards go to the so-called realists. ”When the hard times come, Le Guin said,“ we will need writers who remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality. ”
Le Guin died in 2018, at the age of 88. Theo Downes-Le Guin, his son and literary executor, said he hoped the award “would bring significant help and recognition to writers who would otherwise not receive it.
“Many will appreciate the irony that Ursula herself was suspicious of literary awards and prizes. At the same time, she recognized their true worth in honoring a writer and increasing the visibility of good undervalued writing, ”he added. “She also knew that a little money, at the right time and in the right spirit, can be a turning point in a writer’s ability to keep writing.”
Le Guin has won six Nebula Awards, eight Hugo Awards, and the Grandmaster of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America award. She was known for her sci-fi works such as The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, and the famous and award-winning Earthsea children’s fantasy novels, which are being adapted for television.
Her estate has said she wants to honor the novels that “reflect some of the themes and ideas that were central to Ursula’s magnificent and beloved work, including hope and freedom; alternatives to conflict; and a holistic view of humanity’s place in the natural world ”.
The new prize will be open “to all; readers, authors, booksellers, publishers, librarians and anyone else can nominate work that they believe meets the criteria for the award, ”said the Ursula K The Guin Literary Trust, which will create a list of finalists, to be read by a jury comprising David Mitchell, Luis Alberto Urrea and Becky Chambers.
Cloud Atlas author Mitchell said he was “deeply honored” to judge the award. “The visionary fiction of Ursula Le Guin entered my head when I was young and never came out. His novels and stories have defined, in part, my understanding of what fiction can do, should do and why, ”Mitchell said. “I can’t wait to meet new imaginative works of fiction that, like Ursula’s, glow in the dark.”
Chambers, author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, agreed. “The books of Ursula Le Guin are what made my young self want to become a science fiction writer, so I consider it a huge honor to be on the jury for this award,” she said. “The fictional futures that give us something to point our compasses to are a vital thing, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to help celebrate the voices that continue this work.”