Tananarive Due’s The Reformatory: A Novel Wins 2024 Chautauqua Prize

Tananarive Due in 2019. Photo by Eli Roth.

Chautauqua Institution has selected The Reformatory: A Novel (Saga Press) by Tananarive Due as the 2024 winner of The Chautauqua Prize. 

Awarded annually since 2012, the Prize celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. As author of this year’s winning book, Due receives $7,500, and will be presented with the Prize during a celebratory event and public reading at 5 p.m. EDT Monday, August 19, in Chautauqua’s Hall of Philosophy. 

The Reformatory is a genre-defying work that is equal parts historical fiction, magical realism, supernatural horror, and speculative fiction. In this gripping, page-turning novel set in Jim Crow Florida, readers follow Robert Stephens Jr. as he’s sent to a segregated reform school where he sees the horrors of racism and injustice — for the living, and for the dead. 

“The Reformatory is a novel that deserves to be celebrated by enthusiasts of literary, historical, cultural, and mainstream circles alike,” noted Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill. “Ultimately — and serendipitously, considering we celebrate the seasons and stories of Chautauqua during this 150th anniversary summer — The Reformatory is a narrative about the power of story. It’s a master class in the infinitesimal and expansive impact a story’s telling can have on an individual, a community, and a nation, just as much as it is about elevating stories that have been silenced.”    

Due’s book is “a touching, heartbreaking, and tragically powerful story about a horrific episode in American history,” said Kwame Alexander, the Michael I. Rudell Artistic Director of Literary Arts and Inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Chautauqua. “Truly magical, this novel will bring about the kinds of honest conversation that will haunt and heal readers at Chautauqua and beyond.” 

Due is an American Book Award and NAACP Image Award­-winning author, who was an executive producer on “Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror” for Shudder and teaches Afrofuturism and Black Horror at UCLA. She and her husband, science-fiction author Steven Barnes, cowrote the graphic novel The Keeper and a second-season episode of The Twilight Zone for Paramount Plus and Monkeypaw Productions. Due is the author of several novels and two short story collections, Ghost Summer: Stories and The Wishing Pool and Other Stories. She is also coauthor of a civil rights memoir, Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights (with her late mother, Patricia Stephens Due). 

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