Program News

Marina Warner Wins 2013 Capote Award

March 26, 2013

Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights, written by Marina Warner, professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex, and published by Harvard University Press, is the winner of the 2013 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin.

Stranger Magic is a dazzling history of magical thinking, exploring the power of The Arabian Nights and its impact in the West. Warner is a writer of fiction, criticism, and history; her works include novels and short stories as well as studies of art, myths, symbols, and fairy tales.

In a review in The Guardian, Robin Yassin-Kassab says, “Stranger Magic is a labor of love, an academic work which often reads like a fireside conversation . . . Warner’s conclusion reminds us of her organising principle: the uses of enchantment to open new possibilities of thought and sympathy, indeed the necessity of magic, especially in a self-consciously ‘rational’ and secular world.”

The $30,000 award—the largest annual cash prize in English-language literary criticism—is administered for the Truman Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Warner will accept the award in a ceremony in the Old Capitol Senate Chambers on November 14, 2013, at 4:00 p.m..

The book was chosen by an international panel of prominent critics and writers—Terry Castle, Garrett Stewart, Michael Wood, John Kerrigan, Elaine Scarry, and Joyce Carol Oates

Warner will accept the award this fall in a public event at the UI that will include remarks on the literary topic of her choosing.

The Truman Capote Estate announced the establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust in 1994, during a breakfast at Tiffany's in New York City, on the 40th anniversary of the publication of Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany's.

In addition to the administration of the literary criticism award, the Writers' Workshop involvement with the trust includes awarding Truman Capote Fellowships to UI students in creative writing.

The establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust was stipulated in the author's will, and the Annual Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin reflects Capote's frequently expressed concern for the health of literary criticism in the English language. The awards are designed to reward and encourage excellence in the field.

Newton Arvin, in whose memory the award was established, was one of the critics Capote admired. However, Arvin's academic career at Smith College was destroyed in the late 1940s when his homosexuality was exposed.

For more information:
Marina Warner Receives Capote Prize
Marina Warner