The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal have announced that Attica Locke, author of “Pleasantville,” will receive the 2016 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.
Locke is the sixth winner of the prize. The prize, authorized by Lee, is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.
“I clearly recall the summer I read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and wrote my first stories on the back of my dad’s legal stationery,” Locke said. “There could be no higher praise for me than winning this prize. I am deeply moved.”
“Pleasantville” was chosen by a distinguished panel of writers. They are: Dr. Philip Beidler, author and professor of English, University of Alabama; Helen Ellis, author of“American Housewife”; Homer Hickam, author of “Rocket Boys”; Rheta Grimsley Johnson, author, journalist and syndicated columnist; and Angela Johnson, author of “Wind Flyers” and “Heaven.”
The Selection Committee said “Pleasantville” has beautiful prose and strong characters, much like “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“In “Pleasantville,” Attica Locke takes us out of a courtroom and into a lawyer’s home and heart,” Ellis said.
Locke will be honored with a signed special edition of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a $3,000 cash award and a feature article in the ABA Journal.
“I think the finalists this year were, collectively, the best in the history of the Harper Lee Prize,” said Allen Pusey, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal, a co-sponsor of the prize. “’Pleasantville’ is a richly constructed narrative truly worthy of this recognition.”
Locke’s novel will be honored during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the National Book Festival. Following the award presentation, the Selection Committee will convene a panel discussion of “Pleasantville” in relationship to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
About Attica Locke
Attica Locke’s first novel, “Black Water Rising,” was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was short-listed for the Orange Prize in the United Kingdom (now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction). Her second book, “The Cutting Season,” published by Dennis Lehane Books, is a national bestseller and is a winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. A graduate of Northwestern University, Locke was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab. She’s written scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films and HBO and is a writer and producer of the Fox drama “Empire.” A native of Houston, Attica lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.