Nancy Pearl has been named the recipient of the National Book Foundation's 2021 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
Pearl, a veteran librarian, worked in public library systems in Detroit, Tulsa, and most recently Seattle, where she was the executive director of the Washington Center for the Book before retiring. A longtime PW columnist, Pearl is also the creator of the One City One Book program and the host of the Book Lust with Nancy Pearl television show on the Seattle Channel. A bestselling author and literary critic, Pearl is the author of the Book Lust series—four books of book recommendations—as well as the novel George & Lizzie and, with Jeff Schwager, The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books that Changed Their Lives.
“Nancy Pearl’s energetic commitment to spreading the joy of books has truly helped build our national culture of reading,” Ruth Dickey, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, said in a statement. “For decades, Nancy has worked closely with libraries, literacy organizations, and community groups, in the U.S. and abroad, to share her infectious love of books with individual readers and entire communities. We are delighted to celebrate her long career of important work keeping literature at the center of conversations.”
The award will be presented to Pearl at the 72nd National Book Awards ceremony on November 17 by the Washington Post’s Ron Charles. Past recipients of the Literarian award include Dr. Maya Angelou, Terry Gross, Dick Robinson, Oren Teicher, and Carolyn Reidy, among others.