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.

Browse through our list of previous winners on the right, and visit our Neustadt Finalists page to see a complete list of all the candidates and jurors for the Neustadt Prize over the years.

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 32 laureates, finalists, or jurors who in the past 48 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.

Nobel Prize YearNobel LaureateNeustadt Role
1970 Nobel Prize in LiteratureAlexander Solzhenitzyn1970 Neustadt Candidate
1971 Nobel Prize in LiteraturePablo Neruda1970 Neustadt Candidate
1972 Nobel Prize in LiteratureHeinrich Böll1970 Neustadt Juror
1974 Nobel Prize in LiteratureEyvind Johnson (co-recipient)1974 Neustadt Candidate
1975 Nobel Prize in LiteratureEugenio Montale1970 Neustadt Candidate
1979 Nobel Prize in LiteratureOdysseus Elytis1972 Neustadt Juror
1980 Nobel Prize in LiteratureCzeslaw Milosz1978 Neustadt Laureate, 1999 Puterbaugh Fellow
1981 Nobel Prize in LiteratureElias Canetti1978 Neustadt Candidate
1982 Nobel Prize in LiteratureGabriel García Márquez1972 Neustadt Laureate
1985 Nobel Prize in LiteratureClaude Simon1972 Neustadt Candidate
1986 Nobel Prize in LiteratureWole Soyinka1974, 1976, 1986 Neustadt Candidate
1986 Nobel Peace PrizeElie Wiesel1984 Neustadt Juror
1987 Nobel Prize in LiteratureJoseph Brodsky1978 Neustadt Juror
1990 Nobel Prize in LiteratureOctavio Paz1982 Neustadt Laureate, 1971 Puterbaugh Fellow
1991 Nobel Prize in LiteratureNadine Gordimer1988 Neustadt Candidate
1992 Nobel Prize in LiteratureDerek Walcott1978 Neustadt Juror
1993 Nobel Prize in LiteratureToni Morrison1994 Neustadt Candidate (nominated before 1993 Nobel Prize announcement)
1994 Nobel Prize in LiteratureKenzaburo Oe1986, 1992 Neustadt Candidate, 2001 Puterbaugh Fellow
1995 Nobel Prize in LiteratureSeamus Heaney1994 Neustadt Candidate
1998 Nobel Prize in LiteratureJosé Saramago2004 Neustadt Candidate
1999 Nobel Prize in LiteratureGünter Grass1980, 1986 Neustadt Candidate
2002 Nobel Prize in LiteratureV. S. Naipaul1978, 1990, 2000 Neustadt Candidate
2003 Nobel Prize in LiteratureJ. M. Coetzee1994 Neustadt Juror, 2004 Neustadt Candidate (nominated before 2003 Nobel Prize announcement), 2003 Puterbaugh Fellow
2005 Nobel Prize in LiteratureHarold Pinter1972 Neustadt Candidate
2006 Nobel Prize in LiteratureOrhan Pamuk2006 Neustadt Candidate (nominated before 2006 Nobel Prize announcement), 2006 Puterbaugh Fellow
2007 Nobel Prize in LiteratureDoris Lessing1998 Neustadt Candidate
2010 Nobel Prize in LiteratureMario Vargas Llosa1970 Neustadt Juror, 1977 Puterbaugh Fellow, 2004 Neustadt Candidate
2011 Nobel Prize in LiteratureTomas Tranströmer1990 Neustadt Laureate
2012 Nobel Prize in LiteratureMo Yan1998 Neustadt Candidate
2013 Nobel Prize in LiteratureAlice Munro2006 Neustadt Candidate
2015 Nobel Prize in LiteratureSvetlana Alexievich1994 Neustadt Candidate
2016 Nobel Prize in LiteratureBob Dylan2012 Neustadt Candidate

32 Nobel-Neustadt Convergences

4 Neustadt Laureates
7 Neustadt Jurors
21 Neustadt Finalists

As of July 2018