Michelle Obama Award will honor student memoir writers

NEW YORK (AP) — A literary honor will now carry the name of a uniquely successful author: the Michelle Obama Award for Memoir.

On Wednesday, Penguin Random House announced the retitling of the prize in its decades-old Creative Writing Awards program, which also includes categories named for Amanda Gorman (poetry) and Maya Angelou (spoken word). Each year, the Obama prize will provide a $10,000 college scholarship to a high school senior in public school, based on an autobiographical English-language composition.

Obama’s memoir “Becoming” was published in 2018 and has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide, by far the most popular book by a modern White House resident. The former first lady’s next book, “The Light We Carry,” comes out next month.

“I know firsthand how nerve-wracking it can be to share the most intimate stories from your life with the world,” Obama said in a statement released by Penguin Random House.

“But after publishing my memoir ‘Becoming,’ I’ve learned that writing your own story can be a powerful tool. When we share the whole of ourselves, we offer others the opportunity to not only see us as we are, but maybe even think about themselves in a new way,” she said. “This allows us to harness the things that set us apart and helps us see the world as the nuanced, messy, beautiful place that it is. That’s why I am so excited about this new award, and I can’t wait to read what this next generation of young writers will share with us all.”

The Creative Writing Awards program was established in 1993 and has given more than $2.8 million to public high school students. The awards are now co-administered with the grassroots organization We Need Diverse Books.

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