The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is a biennial award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and World Literature Today.
The Prize consists of $50,000, a replica of an eagle feather cast in silver, and a certificate. A generous endowment from the Neustadt family of Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Dallas, Texas, ensures the award in perpetuity.
The prize was established in 1969 as the Books Abroad International Prize for Literature, then renamed the Books Abroad / Neustadt Prize before assuming its present name in 1976, The Neustadt International Prize for Literature. It is the first international literary award of this scope to originate in the United States and is one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists, and playwrights are equally eligible.
Critically acclaimed Indian-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry received the prize during the 2012 Neustadt Festival at the University of Oklahoma last fall (September 25-28).
Neustadt Jurors and Candidates
A new international jury of outstanding writers is selected to decide the winner of each Neustadt Prize in odd-numbered years. The members of the jury are determined by the executive director of World Literature Today (who is the only permanent member) in consultation with the journal’s editors and the president of the University of Oklahoma. Each juror nominates one author for the prize. The jurors convene for two to three days at the University of Oklahoma for their deliberations, and the winner is announced at the banquet honoring the laureate of the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. A special ceremony in the laureate’s honor is then held the following year, and the writer’s life and work are subsequently profiled in a special issue of WLT.
The Neustadt Prize Charter
The charter of the Neustadt Prize stipulates that the award be given in recognition of outstanding achievement in poetry, fiction, or drama and that it be conferred solely on the basis of literary merit. Any living author writing in any language is eligible, provided only that at least a representative portion of his or her work is available in English, the language used during the jury deliberations. The prize may serve to crown a lifetime’s achievement or to direct attention to an important body of work that is still developing. (The prize is not open to application.)
Neustadt–Nobel Prize Convergences
One indication of the prestige of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature is its record of 30 laureates, candidates, or jurors who in the past 42 years have been awarded Nobel Prizes following their involvement with the Neustadt Prize, with only one exception: José Saramago (Portugal), who was a Nobel Prize recipient before being considered for the Neustadt. The prize, which carries a $50,000 award, is administered by the University of Oklahoma and its international magazine, World Literature Today. The Neustadt Prize is the only international literary award emanating from the United States for which poets, playwrights and novelists are given equal consideration.