This award recognizes artists who have made a significant contribution to the culture of the United States. Past recipients who produce literary works include Robert Frost, John Updike, and Joan Didion.
Michael Chabon, the chairman of the MacDowell Colony and a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, gave this statement in the press release: “Toni Morrison is indisputably the greatest living American novelist. With the prophetic vision that is the oldest, truest patrimony of American literature she sees us as we are now, as we have been and as we have never lived up to our promise to become. In the refiner’s fire of that vision she has shaped the raw, hard stuff of our singularly violent history—the factual and the mythic history alike—into epics of everyday tragedy, written in a prose style that like all the greatest American prose styles alloys the fiercely poetic and the wryly conversational to forge a language that shines with compassion and cuts like steel.”