About the Neustadt Prize

Neustadt Prize Feather


The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is a biennial award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and World Literature Today.

The Prize consists of $50,000, a replica of an eagle feather cast in silver, and a certificate. A generous endowment from the Neustadt family of Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Dallas, Texas, ensures the award in perpetuity.

The prize was established in 1969 as the Books Abroad International Prize for Literature, then renamed the Books Abroad / Neustadt Prize before assuming its present name in 1976, The Neustadt International Prize for Literature. It is the first international literary award of this scope to originate in the United States and is one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists, and playwrights are equally eligible.

Critically acclaimed Indian-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry received the prize during the 2012 Neustadt Festival at the University of Oklahoma last fall (September 25-28).

Visit our Past Laureates page to see all previous winners, finalists, and jurors for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Neustadt Jurors and Finalists

A new international jury of outstanding writers is selected to decide the winner of each Neustadt Prize in odd-numbered years. The members of the jury are determined by the executive director of World Literature Today (who is the only permanent member) in consultation with the journal’s editors and the president of the University of Oklahoma. Each juror nominates one author for the prize. The jurors convene for two to three days at the University of Oklahoma for their deliberations, and the winner is announced at the banquet honoring the laureate of the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. A special ceremony in the laureate’s honor is then held the following year, and the writer’s life and work are subsequently profiled in a special issue of WLT.

The Neustadt Prize Charter

The charter of the Neustadt Prize stipulates that the award be given in recognition of outstanding achievement in poetry, fiction, or drama and that it be conferred solely on the basis of literary merit. Any living author writing in any language is eligible, provided only that at least a representative portion of his or her work is available in English, the language used during the jury deliberations. The prize may serve to crown a lifetime’s achievement or to direct attention to an important body of work that is still developing. (The prize is not open to application.)


About the Neustadt Silver Feather

“I just renewed my subscription to WLT. So happy to renew—I’m excited every time I receive your colorful publication with so many photos of writers. My congratulations to Adam Zagajewski, the 2004 Neustadt laureate (see WLT, May–August 2005, 3–26). I love that shot of him with the silver eagle feather in his suit pocket and his beautiful wife, Maya, smiling over his shoulder. I am especially attracted, because I conceived and sculpted the original silver eagle feather. Ivar Ivask, the longtime editor of WLT, asked me to come up with a symbol that would enhance the Neustadt cash award. You know the rest of the story (see below). It was my first sculpture commission, and I’m still proud.”—Mike Dirham (Kansas City, Missouri), World Literature Today 80, no. 1 (January 2006), 4

“Like the laurel leaf from the sacred tree of Apollo, woven into a garland to crown the poet, the hero, the laureate, so the eagle feather signified success for the original Americans. In many cultures the eagle has been associated with the life of the spirit, with the transcendent experience, and among North American Plains tribes the eagle symbolized the Great Powers themselves. Catching the eagle for its feathers was a holy task accompanied by prayer and fasting, and when the eagle came, it was received as a gift from those Powers it represented. It was accepted as a reward for human effort both physical and spiritual. The feather of the eagle was worn with great reverence and humility and respect. Two traditions come together here. Two traditions—the eagle feather of the American Indian and the quill of the poet—are united in this prize. It is an appropriate fusion of meanings for an award to honor the highest achievements in the literature of the world.”—Mike Dirham, former art director, Books Abroad / World Literature Today

Neustadt–Nobel Prize Convergences

One indication of the prestige of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature is its record of 30 laureates, finalists, or jurors who in the past 42 years have been awarded Nobel Prizes following their involvement with the Neustadt Prize, with only one exception: José Saramago (Portugal), who was a Nobel Prize recipient before being considered for the Neustadt. The prize, which carries a $50,000 award, is administered by the University of Oklahoma and its international magazine, World Literature Today. The Neustadt Prize is the only international literary award emanating from the United States for which poets, playwrights and novelists are given equal consideration.

Neustadt-Nobel Prize Convergences, 1970-2012

1970 Nobel Prize in Literature Alexander Solzhenitzyn 1970 Neustadt Finalist
1971 Nobel Prize in Literature Pablo Neruda 1970 Neustadt Finalist
1972 Nobel Prize in Literature Heinrich Böll 1970 Neustadt Juror
1974 Nobel Prize in Literature Eyvind Johnson (co-recipient) 1974 Neustadt Finalist
1975 Nobel Prize in Literature Eugenio Montale 1970 Neustadt Finalist
1979 Nobel Prize in Literature Odysseus Elytis 1972 Neustadt Juror
1980 Nobel Prize in Literature Czesław Miłosz 1978 Neustadt Laureate,
1999 Puterbaugh Fellow
1981 Nobel Prize in Literature Elias Canetti 1978 Neustadt Finalist
1982 Nobel Prize in Literature Gabriel García Márquez 1972 Neustadt Laureate
1985 Nobel Prize in Literature Claude Simon 1972 Neustadt Finalist
1986 Nobel Prize in Literature Wole Soyinka 1974, 1976, 1986 Neustadt Finalist
1986 Nobel Peace Prize Elie Wiesel 1984 Neustadt Juror
1987 Nobel Prize in Literature Joseph Brodsky 1978 Neustadt Juror
1990 Nobel Prize in Literature Octavio Paz 1982 Neustadt Laureate,
1971 Puterbaugh Fellow
1991 Nobel Prize in Literature Nadine Gordimer 1988 Neustadt Finalist
1992 Nobel Prize in Literature Derek Walcott 1978 Neustadt Juror
1993 Nobel Prize in Literature Toni Morrison 1994 Neustadt Finalist
(nominated before 1993 Nobel Prize announcement)
1994 Nobel Prize in Literature Kenzaburo Oe 1986, 1992 NeustadtFinalist,
2001 Puterbaugh Fellow
1995 Nobel Prize in Literature Seamus Heaney 1994 Neustadt Finalist
1998 Nobel Prize in Literature José Saramago 2004 Neustadt Finalist
1999 Nobel Prize in Literature Günter Grass 1980, 1986 Neustadt Finalist
2002 Nobel Prize in Literature V. S. Naipaul 1978, 1990, 2000 Neustadt Finalist
2003 Nobel Prize in Literature J. M. Coetzee 1994 Neustadt Juror,
2004 Neustadt Finalist (nominated before 2003)
2005 Nobel Prize in Literature Harold Pinter 1972 Neustadt Finalist
2006 Nobel Prize in Literature Orhan Pamuk 2006 Neustadt Finalist
(nominated before 2006 Nobel Prize announcement),
2006 Puterbaugh Fellow
2007 Nobel Prize in Literature Doris Lessing 1998 Neustadt Finalist
2010 Nobel Prize in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa 1970 Neustadt Juror,
1977 Puterbaugh Fellow,
2004 Neustadt Finalist
2011 Nobel Prize in Literature Tomas Tranströmer 1990 Neustadt Laureate
2012 Nobel Prize in Literature Mo Yan 1998 Neustadt Finalist
2013 Nobel Prize in Literature Alice Munro 2006 Neustadt Finalist
2015 Nobel Prize in Literature Svetlana Alexievich 1994 Neustadt Finalist

31 Nobel-Neustadt Convergences

4 Neustadt Laureates
7 Neustadt Jurors
20 Neustadt Finalists

As of October 2014