2019 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner

George R. R. Martin - Photo by Kate Russell
Photo by Kate Russell

On October 10, 2019, Chicago Public Library and Chicago Public Library Foundation host the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner honoring the recipient of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award and the 21st Century Award.

Fantasy and science fiction writer George R. R. Martin, best known for his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire that inspired HBO’s critically acclaimed, multi-Emmy award-winning series Game of Thrones will receive the 2019 Carl Sandburg Literary Award. Martin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including A Game of Thrones (1996), A Clash of Kings (1998), A Storm of Swords (2000), A Feast for Crows (2005)and A Dance with Dragons (2011)—as well as Tuf Voyaging (1986), Fevre Dream (1982), The Armageddon Rag (1983), Dying of the Light (1977), Windhaven (with Lisa Tuttle) (1981), and Dreamsongs Volumes I and II (2012). In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time called Martin “the American Tolkien”, and in 2011, he was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. Martin earned a B.S. and M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Eve Ewing - Photo by Nolis Anderson
Photo by Nolis Anderson

Education sociologist Dr. Eve L. Ewing, will be recognized with the 21st Century Award which honors significant recent achievements in writing by an author with ties to Chicago. Ewing is the author of published nonfiction, fiction, plays, and poetry including the widely acclaimed Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side (2018), Electric Arches (2017). Her new book 1919, explores the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 through poems recounting the stories of everyday people trying to survive and thrive in the city.

The two authors will be in attendance at the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner on Thursday, October 10 at 5:30 p.m. at The Isadore & Sadie Dorin Forum (725 W. Roosevelt Road) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Legendary Chicago newscaster Bill Kurtis serves as host, and the evening’s highlight is always the intimate onstage conversation with the Sandburg Award honoree led by best-selling author and National Public Radio host Scott Simon. An acclaimed author with ties to Chicago is also seated at each table, adding to the evening’s uniqueness.

The 2019 Sandburg Awards Dinner will be chaired by civic leader Jennifer Friedes. BMO Harris Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the event.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award recognizes the work of the world’s most heralded authors. Prestigious past winners include Isabel Allende, Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, Robert Caro, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Don DeLillo, Roger Ebert, Dave Eggers, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Nikki Giovanni, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Walter Isaacson, Erik Larson, Michael Lewis, David Mamet, David McCullough, Larry McMurtry, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Salman Rushdie, Stephen Sondheim, Mavis Staples, Scott Turow, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, and Tom Wolfe.

The 21st Century Award honors significant recent achievement in writing by a Chicago-based author. In presenting this award, the Foundation’s Directors hope to encourage the creation of new works and increase public awareness of the writer’s talents.

Past winners of the 21st Century Award include Jeffery Renard Allen, Blue Balliett, Eula Biss, Elizabeth Crane, Rich Cohen, Amina Gautier, Sara Gruen, Aleksandar Hemon, Tracy Letts, Eric Charles May, Natalie Y. Moore, Nami Mun, Audrey Niffenegger, Erika L. Sanchez, Theresa Schwegel, Rebecca Skloot, Christine Sneed, Patrick Somerville, and Veronica Roth.

The event is an annual fundraiser that generates crucial support for responsive and innovative learning initiatives accessible through the Library’s 81 neighborhood branches. Sponsorship packages for tables of eight guests are currently available beginning at $12,500 levels. Individual tickets are available for $1,250 and $2,500 beginning May 28. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, tables, or a sponsorship, contact Rachael Everson at reverson@cplfoundation.org.

For media inquiries, please contact Brenda Langstraat at blangstraat@cplfoundation.org

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million raised in 2018


guests in 2018


guest authors with ties to Chicago


honorees since 2000