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Petina Gappah’s Out of Darkness, Shining Light is the winner of the 2020 Chautauqua Prize.

The Chautauqua Prize has been awarded each year since 2012 to “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.”

The Chautauqua Institution is an educational center in New York, historically known for supporting the arts and providing flexible educational opportunities to women, low-income students, and students living in remote rural areas.

Gappah will receive a prize of $7,500 and give a public reading at the Chautauqua Institution’s Online Assembly. The event will be announced at a later date this summer.

She was thrilled to hear the news, which she shared on Twitter.

The Chautauqua Institution’s President Michael E. Hill has this to say about Out of Darkness, Shining Light:

Deeply informed and richly written, Out of Darkness, Shining Light completely reorients our understanding of one of the most lasting myths of Western culture. Comical one moment, and sobering the next, Petina’s writing is illustrative and instructive, and the cadences and voices she gives her characters are distinct and compelling — truly indicative of a masterful writer. We’re honored to award her The Chautauqua Prize, and to celebrate this book that pulls its story out of the darkness of history and shines a light on the many voices of our shared humanity.

Out of Darkness, Shining Light is a historical fiction. The novel details the 285-day journey during which a fellowship of interesting characters carry Dr. David Livingstone’s dead body to the Indian Ocean coast.

The novel was also a finalist for the 2020 NAACP Image Awards, one of NPR’s Favorite Books of 2019, and made the list of Kirkus Review’s Best Historical Fiction of 2019.

Congratulations to Petina Gappah!

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