The Neustadt International Prize for Literature
Often referred to as “the American Nobel,” the Neustadt International Prize is a biennial award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and managed by the university’s literary magazine, World Literature Today.
Browse through the Neustadt Prize winners from 1969 to the present.
Peruse our list of every author who has served as a juror for the prize.
Travel through five decades of renowned authors who have been nominated for the prize.
“Kamau Brathwaite, a towering poet, has moved from the margins of language and history, from the peripheral realm of ”the other exiles,’ to the center of civilization, affecting a renaissance of oral poetry and remaking of the poetic world.” – H. H. Anniah Gowda on 1994 Neustadt Prize Laureate Kamau Brathwaite
About the Neustadt Prize
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.
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.
“It is a prize in the mythical Oklahoma of Kafka’s dreams and the land of the unique rose rock, and has been awarded to a writer from a remote and mysterious country in Latin America nominated by a great writer from far-off Iceland. These circumstances suffice to make of the Books Abroad / Neustadt International Prize for Literature the one great international prize for highly deserving writers who are not yet well known.” —Gabriel García Márquez, 1972
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 Year||Nobel Laureate||Neustadt Role|
|1970 Nobel Prize in Literature||Alexander Solzhenitzyn||1970 Neustadt Candidate|
|1971 Nobel Prize in Literature||Pablo Neruda||1970 Neustadt Candidate|
|1972 Nobel Prize in Literature||Heinrich Böll||1970 Neustadt Juror|
|1974 Nobel Prize in Literature||Eyvind Johnson (co-recipient)||1974 Neustadt Candidate|
|1975 Nobel Prize in Literature||Eugenio Montale||1970 Neustadt Candidate|
|1979 Nobel Prize in Literature||Odysseus Elytis||1972 Neustadt Juror|
|1980 Nobel Prize in Literature||Czeslaw Milosz||1978 Neustadt Laureate, 1999 Puterbaugh Fellow|
|1981 Nobel Prize in Literature||Elias Canetti||1978 Neustadt Candidate|
|1982 Nobel Prize in Literature||Gabriel García Márquez||1972 Neustadt Laureate|
|1985 Nobel Prize in Literature||Claude Simon||1972 Neustadt Candidate|
|1986 Nobel Prize in Literature||Wole Soyinka||1974, 1976, 1986 Neustadt Candidate|
|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 Candidate|
|1992 Nobel Prize in Literature||Derek Walcott||1978 Neustadt Juror|
|1993 Nobel Prize in Literature||Toni Morrison||1994 Neustadt Candidate (nominated before 1993 Nobel Prize announcement)|
|1994 Nobel Prize in Literature||Kenzaburo Oe||1986, 1992 Neustadt Candidate, 2001 Puterbaugh Fellow|
|1995 Nobel Prize in Literature||Seamus Heaney||1994 Neustadt Candidate|
|1998 Nobel Prize in Literature||José Saramago||2004 Neustadt Candidate|
|1999 Nobel Prize in Literature||Günter Grass||1980, 1986 Neustadt Candidate|
|2002 Nobel Prize in Literature||V. S. Naipaul||1978, 1990, 2000 Neustadt Candidate|
|2003 Nobel Prize in Literature||J. M. Coetzee||1994 Neustadt Juror, 2004 Neustadt Candidate (nominated before 2003 Nobel Prize announcement), 2003 Puterbaugh Fellow|
|2005 Nobel Prize in Literature||Harold Pinter||1972 Neustadt Candidate|
|2006 Nobel Prize in Literature||Orhan Pamuk||2006 Neustadt Candidate (nominated before 2006 Nobel Prize announcement), 2006 Puterbaugh Fellow|
|2007 Nobel Prize in Literature||Doris Lessing||1998 Neustadt Candidate|
|2010 Nobel Prize in Literature||Mario Vargas Llosa||1970 Neustadt Juror, 1977 Puterbaugh Fellow, 2004 Neustadt Candidate|
|2011 Nobel Prize in Literature||Tomas Tranströmer||1990 Neustadt Laureate|
|2012 Nobel Prize in Literature||Mo Yan||1998 Neustadt Candidate|
|2013 Nobel Prize in Literature||Alice Munro||2006 Neustadt Candidate|
|2015 Nobel Prize in Literature||Svetlana Alexievich||1994 Neustadt Candidate|
|2016 Nobel Prize in Literature||Bob Dylan||2012 Neustadt Candidate|
|2019 Nobel Prize in Literature||Peter Handke||1988 Neustadt Candidate|