The National Book Foundation, which presents the National Book Awards, has announced that it will award Art Spiegelman the 2022 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (DCAL)
Art Spiegelman is internationally famous for his Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus. In two volumes, Maus chronicles his parents’ survival as Polish Jews during the Holocaust.
The work spiegelman’s deeply personal work includes Breakdowns, The Wild Party, In the Shadow of No Towers, a collection of three of his sketchbooks entitled Be a Nose! and MetaMaus, a companion to The Complete Maus
He is the first comic book artist to receive the DCAL medal, which will be presented to him by the author at the National Book Awards ceremony Neil Gaiman at the National Book Awards ceremony on November 16, 2022.
Spiegelman (bio) was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was made an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, received the Grand Prix of the 2011 Angoulême International Comic Strip Festival, and was the first comic book artist to receive the DCAL medal Edward MacDowell Medal. (2018)
He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Industry Hall of Fame, the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame and was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2005. Spiegelman’s work has been exhibited in museums around the world, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Jewish Museum in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Born in Sweden in 1948, Spiegelman emigrated with his parents to the United States in 1951. He began drawing professionally as a teenager, learned to draw in high school and studied art and philosophy at Harpur College (now the State University of New York at Binghamton)
Spiegelman became a leading voice in the underground comics movement of the 1960s and 1970s, a time when he began experimenting with autobiographical comics. In 1975, he co-founded the comics anthology Arcade, and in 1980, he and his wife founded the avant-garde comics magazine Arcade, Françoise Moulythe avant-garde comics magazine RAW which was one of the main platforms for the dissemination of American and European comics.
He taught courses on the history and aesthetics of comics at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1979 to 1986, and his work has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The New Yorker, where he worked as a staff writer and artist from 1993 to 2003.
Spiegelman is the 35th recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Medal, established in 1988 to recognise a lifetime of literary achievement
Past recipients include Walter Mosley, Edmund White, Isabel Allende, Annie Proulx, Robert A. Caro, John Ashbery, Judy Blume, Don DeLillo, Joan Didion, E.L. Doctorow, Maxine Hong Kingston, Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, Elmore Leonard, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Adrienne Rich and, most recently, Karen Tei Yamashita.
Nominations for the DCAL medal are submitted by former National Book Award winners, finalists, judges, and other writers and literary professionals from around the country. Final selection is made by the Board of Trustees of the National Book Foundation. Recipients of the Foundation’s Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Medal receive $10,000 and a solid brass medal.
Source: National Book Foundation
Maus, banned in schools
The work of Art Spiegelman was in the news in January 2022, when the McMinn County (Tennessee) school board voted to ban the graphic novel Maus (they usually call it “withdraw”) from all schools.
Once again, the Streisand effect kicked in and for a lot of days Maus appeared on Amazon’s bestseller list (copy at Archive.org) and in Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore in the United States. Copy at Archive.is.
Richard Davis, owner of Nirvana Comics raised more than $88,000 from 2,800 donations on Gofundme to buy copies of Maus and distribute them free to students who wanted to read it.