Tucker Wins Harper Lee Award
Posted on February 1, 2022
University of South Alabama’s journalist-in-residence Cynthia Tucker has been named the Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2022. She will be presented with the award at the 25th Monroeville Literary Festival to be held on March 4 and 5, 2022 in Monroeville, Alabama.
“I didn't know anything about the process of choosing the winner, and I didn't know I was being considered,” Tucker said. “I certainly would not have considered myself a likely winner, so I was quite pleasantly surprised.”
The award is named after famed author Harper Lee, a Monroeville native, who’s novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” is considered a classic of modern American literature. The honor is given annually to writers with ties to the state of Alabama.
“The Harper Lee Award is, I would say, the pinnacle of recognition for a writer from Alabama,” said Frye Galliard, University of South Alabama’s writer-in-residence.
Tucker is also a Monroeville native, and her parents knew Lee well.
“I met Harper Lee — or Miss Nelle, as she was known about town — after my father died in 1984,” said Tucker. “I got to see her three or four more times. We talked about books and popular culture. She was a big C. S. Lewis fan, and I still have a book by him that she lent me.”
Tucker spent most of her career working for newspapers as a reporter and editor winning numerous awards. In 2007, she won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary; Lee took notice.
“She wrote me a lovely congratulatory note. Of course, I have it framed,” Tucker said.
Previous Harper Lee Award winners are: Angela Johnson, 2021; Patti Callahan Henry, 2020; Daniel Wallace, 2019; Honoree Jeffers, 2018; Brad Watson, 2017; E.O. Wilson, 2016; Hank Lazer, 2015; Mark Childress, 2014; Gay Talese, 2013; Fannie Flagg, 2012; Winston Groom, 2011; Carolyn Haines, 2010; Rick Bragg, 2009; Rebecca Gilman, 2008; William Cobb, 2007; Wayne Greenhaw, 2006; Andrew Hudgins, 2005; Sonia Sanchez, 2004; Rodney Jones, 2003; Mary Ward Brown, 2002; Sena Jeter Naslund, 2001; Helen Norris, 2000; Madison Jones, 1999; Albert Murray, 1998.
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