Two Women at Rutgers University Win National Book Critics Circle Awards

Nicole Fleetwood, a professor of American studies and art history in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University New Brunswick and poet Cathy Park Hong, a professor in the master of one arts degree program in creative writing at Rutgers University Newark have received National Book Critics Circle Awards. The National Book Critics Circle awards are given each year and honor literature published in the United States in six categories – autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Professor Fleetwood won the award for criticism for her book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020). The book, which took nine years to complete, is based on scores of interviews with incarcerated people and their families, prison staff, activists, and other observers. It explores the importance of people in prison creating art as a means to survive incarceration.

“It means a lot to be recognized by the NBCC, especially in the category of criticism. Some of my favorite authors have received this award, like Zadie Smith and Maggie Nelson,’’ Profesor Fleetwood said. “Most importantly, it means so much to have the artists featured in the book recognized for their incredible contributions to contemporary art and social justice.”

Dr. Fleeetwood joined the faculty at Rutgers University in 2005. She is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in modern thought and literature from Stanford University.

Professor Hong won in the category of autobiography for her memoir, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (One Workd, 2020). In announcing the award, Marion Winik, the autobiography committee chair, said, “This courageous, unblinking, innovative, gorgeous and furious book invites readers to begin to understand the experiences of the completely non-homogenous group of people lumped together as Asian Americans, as well as the singular experience of the author, who is Korean American, the daughter of immigrants, and for whom English is a second language.”

Professor Hong was raised in Los Angeles and is a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio. She earned a master of fine arts degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

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