Dave Eggers Wins Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities

Author Dave Eggers has won the Arts and Humanities Heinz Award, established in 1993 by the Heinz Family Foundation in honor of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. The awards recognize "the extraordinary achievements of individuals in the areas of greatest importance to him," which include the environment, human condition and arts and humanities."

Eggers' award is for Arts and Humanities, and the Heinz Award website describes him this way:

"A novelist whose meteoric commercial and critical success has helped propel him into the worlds of philanthropy, advocacy and education, Dave Eggers is a true force of nature. Having burst on the literary scene with his autobiographical bestseller, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, before he was 30, Mr. Eggers has since enjoyed critical acclaim in both fiction and nonfiction, in particular, with his 2006 novel, What is the What, which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Award for Fiction. The novel, a blend of biography, fiction and journalism, recounts the tragic story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, whom Mr. Eggers came to know and whose heroic odyssey the author tells with authenticity and pathos."

"But it is his infectious love of writing – together with an inspiring commitment to nurturing young literary voices – that provided Mr. Eggers the impetus to found 826 Valencia, a writing laboratory for children that has expanded from his home in San Francisco to five other U.S. cities. Founded in 2002 with monies from his book earnings, the centers offer free tutoring, English as a Second Language classes, writing workshops, summer camps, publication projects and other services to kids ages six to 18. In order to help emerging writers, Mr. Eggers also launched McSweeney’s, a publishing house that produces his and other young writers’ works. McSweeney’s also is the name of the humor and literary quarterly that he publishes. For the compelling impact of his work, Time magazine named Mr. Eggers one of its “100 Most Influential People of the Year” in 2005."

Eggers, who won the General Fiction gold medal in the 2007 Independent Publisher Book Awards for What is the What, and previously won our Story Teller of the Year award for You Shall Know Our Velocity! in 2003, grew up in the Chicago area and now lives in San Francisco. He is scheduled to appear at the Chicago Humanities Festival on Nov. 10, along with Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, the subject of What Is the What. Our innaugural Moonbeam Children's Book Awards will also be presented during the festival.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.