Northwestern Professor Reginald Gibbons and graduate school alum Aleksandar Hemon were announced last week as finalists for the National Book Award, the university announced Tuesday.
The National Book Awards are some of the most distinguished literary prizes in the United States. Notable past winners include William Faulkner, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Gibbons and Hemon were named for non-fiction and fiction, respectively.
Gibbons is a professor of English, Classics, and Spanish and Portuguese, as well as a poet, fiction writer, translator, literary critic and artist. He has published eight poetry collections and is nominated for the award for one of them, Creatures of a Day (LSU Press, 2008).
He is currently a columnist for American Poetry Review and co-founded and edited TriQuarterly Books, an imprint for contemporary writing at NU. Gibbons has won various awards including the O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the 1995 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for “Sweetbitter”, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Carl Sandburg Award.
Gibbons’ CTECs reveal that he’s an influential professor, who “cares about what he teaches”. Others remark that he is “the quintessential English prof — thoughtful and insightful and simply in love with what we’re reading”.
Hemon, an immigrant from Sarajevo, earned a master’s degree from Northwestern. He moved to Chicago in 1992 knowing little English and resolved to learn the language within five years. As early as 1995, he began to write in English and was first published in TriQuarterly, the very magazine that Gibbons edited. Since then, his work has been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Paris Review, amongst other places. He was awarded a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004.
Hermon’s receives high praises in his CTECs, with one student saying that he is “brilliant: I have learned more about writing from five minutes of him speaking than from entire courses.” Another evaluation declared that Hemon “brings great passion and knowledge to the subject matter and his detailed insights/advice/lessons helped me grow as a writer.”