Friday, July 18, 2014



Doris Kearns Goodwin, Larry McMurtry and Veronica Roth to Receive Prestigious Literary Honors on Oct. 22
Each Table Will Host a Prominent Author or Artist for Dinner

  Grammy Award-winning soul, rhythm and blues and gospel singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples will receive the inaugural Carl Sandburg Award in the Arts from the Chicago Public Library and Chicago Public Library Foundation at the upcoming 14th annual Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner, a true celebration of Chicago’s literary and cultural heritage, on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at The Forum (725 W. Roosevelt Road) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Two Carl Sandburg Literary Awards for career achievement in literature will be presented to Doris Kearns Goodwin (author of bestselling biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and the Kennedy family) and Larry McMurtry (“Terms of Endearment,” “Lonesome Dove,”  “Brokeback Mountain” screenplay), and the 21st Century Award, encouraging new talent, will be given to Chicago author Veronica Roth (“Divergent” series).

“Carl Sandburg is remembered not only as a poet and writer, he was one of the United States’ first folk-singers, who would perform songs at his lectures and poetry recitals,” said Sandburg Dinner Producer Donna La Pietra, a member of the Library Foundation Board. “He also was an early and powerful advocate for civil rights during his era.  We could think of no one more perfect to receive the first Carl Sandburg Award in the Arts than the incomparable Mavis Staples. Like Carl Sandburg, she truly embodies the spirit of creativity and social conscience.”

The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner will take place on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at The Forum (725 W. Roosevelt Road) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Attracting 750 members of Chicago’s civic and cultural communities each year, the celebration is one of the city’s most popular social and philanthropic events. This year it is chaired by Mark Furlong, Chairman and CEO of BMO Harris Bank and Foundation Director Carlette McMullan, a principal at William Blair & Co.  It is produced by Foundation Director Donna La Pietra. The Foundation is led by Board Chair Bob Wislow and President & CEO Rhona Frazin.

Guests will have the opportunity to share a table with a featured writer or artist who has contributed to enriching the Chicago community, including novelist Elizabeth Berg, author and journalist Philip Caputo, negotiation expert Herb Cohen author, journalist and screenwriter Rich Cohen, journalist Rick Kogan, writer and educator Eric Charles May, novelist Nami Mun, crime novelist Sarah Paretsky, 21st Century Award winner and science writer Christine Sneed, novelist and non-fiction writer Scott Turow,  and actress and comedian Julia Sweeney.

Broadcasting legend Bill Kurtis will be the emcee for the event.  All authors will be introduced on stage, and the awards ceremony will follow.  The evening will culminate with an onstage conversation with McMurtry and Kearns Goodwin moderated by author and National Public Radio host Scott Simon, and will conclude with a post-dinner book-signing and dessert reception.  

All funds raised from the evening will support the literary and educational outreach initiatives of the Chicago Public Library including the Summer Learning Challenge; One Book, One Chicago; Teacher in the Library and CyberNavigators. The Sandburg Dinner is presented annually by the Chicago Public Library Foundation in partnership with the Chicago Public Library.

“One of the things that makes Chicago great is the commitment of the business and philanthropic communities to create educational opportunities for all ages through our Library,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “I am truly grateful for the incredible support of the Chicago Public Library Foundation and its many dedicated donors for their work in helping to make the Chicago Public Library a national leader.” 

Past winners of the prestigious Carl Sandburg Literary Award are Michael Lewis, Isabel Allende, Don DeLillo, Walter Isaacson, Roger Ebert, Toni Morrison, David McCullough, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, David Mamet, Nikki Giovanni, Tom Wolfe and Salman Rushdie.

Sponsorship packages for tables of eight guests and a celebrated author are available at $50,000, $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 levels. Individual tickets are $1,000 and $2,500. Reservations are strictly limited. For information or to purchase tickets, tables or sponsorships, visit or contact Louis Schermerhorn at the Chicago Public Library Foundation at (312) 201-9830 x 25 or email

BMO Harris Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2014 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner.

The Chicago Public Library Foundation was founded in 1986 as a true public/private partnership with the City of Chicago to ensure the margin of excellence for Chicago’s outstanding Library.  Through the support of many civic-minded individuals, corporations and foundations, the Foundation provides on-going funding for collections and a variety of community-responsive programs include the Summer Learning Challenge, Teacher in the Library, CyberNavigators, YOUmedia and One Book, One Chicago.  In the past 28 years, the Foundation has provided $55 million in support to the Chicago Public Library.

Since 1873, the Chicago Public Library has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, ideas and knowledge through materials, programs and cutting-edge technology. The Chicago Public Library system has 80 library locations throughout the city including the flagship Harold Washington Library Center, all providing free access to a rich collection of books, DVDs, audio books and music; the Internet and WiFi; online resources; newspapers and magazines. In 2014, the Library continues to serve as neighborhood cultural centers, presenting author discussions, exhibits, homework help and technology programs for children, teens and adults. Chicago Public Library has been hailed for its leadership role in supporting smart cities in a knowledge economy through innovative services and programs.  CPL recently received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; the National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and was ranked number one in the U.S. and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany.

About the Honorees

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a world-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.  She is the author of six critically acclaimed and New York Times best-selling books, including her most recent, “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism,” (November, 2013). DreamWorks Studios has acquired the film rights to the book.  Goodwin previously worked with Stephen Spielberg on the film “Lincoln,” based in part on her award-winning “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.”

Goodwin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history for “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II,” and is the author of the bestsellers “Wait Till Next Year,” “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream” and “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys,” which was adapted into an award-winning five-part TV miniseries.

Goodwin is well known for her appearances and commentary on television, where she is seen frequently on NBC, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, CNN, “The Charlie Rose Show” and “Meet the Press.” Other appearances include “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and many more.  She earned a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, where she taught Government, including a course on the American Presidency. She served as an assistant to President Lyndon Johnson in his last year in the White House, and later assisted President Johnson in the preparation of his memoirs. She has been previously honored with the Charles Frankel Prize, given by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Sarah Josepha Hale medal and the Lincoln Prize.

She resides in Concord, Massachusetts, with her husband, the writer, presidential advisor, speechwriter and playwright Richard N. Goodwin. She was the first woman to enter the Boston Red Sox locker room, and is a devoted fan of the World Series-winning team.

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including “The Last Picture Show,” “Terms of Endearment,” “Folly and Glory,” and “Lonesome Dove,” winner of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His nonfiction works include a biography of Crazy Horse, “Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen,” “Paradise” and “Sacagawea’s Nickname: Essays on the American West.”

Many of his works have been adapted for film and television, including “Hud” (from the novel “Horseman, Pass By”); the Peter Bogdanovich–directed classic “The Last Picture Show;”; James L. Brooks' “Terms of Endearment,” which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1984; and “Lonesome Dove,” which became a popular television mini-series starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall. In 2006, he and co-writer Diana Ossana received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain,” adapted from a short story by E. Annie Proulx. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Veronica Roth is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “Divergent” book series. The first installment of the trilogy, “Divergent” was released in May 2011, followed by “Insurgent” in May of 2012.  The third novel in the trilogy, “Allegiant,” was published in October 2013.  To date, book sales exceed 11 million copies for all three novels combined, and ebook sales for all three titles have set records in the publishing industry. The series has also been published internationally.  A graduate of Northwestern University’s creative writing program, Roth often chose to work on the story that would become “Divergent” instead of doing her homework.  Now a full-time writer, Roth and her husband call the Chicago area home.

Mavis Staples is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient.  Listed as one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of all times, she is also one of a few living musicians who can lay claim to being the voice of America's conscience.  She continues to make vital music to this day.

As both a solo singer and as lead vocalist for the family group she is so identified with, the Staple Singers, lifelong Chicagoan Mavis Staples has managed to transform herself as she goes, yet never alter. From the delta-gospel sound she helped pioneer in the 1950s, to the engaged protest of the civil rights era, to a series of soul radio anthems in the 1970s, to her Prince-produced albums in the 1980s, to her Grammy-winning album in 2011, Staples has carried on, her warm embrace of a voice the only constant.

Her album "You Are Not Alone," won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Americana Album--the first Grammy of her career, at age 73--adding a remarkable new chapter to an already historic body of work.  Her most recent album, the second collaboration with producer Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, is the Grammy-nominated "One True Vine," a gospel album crafted for the 21st century.



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