2013 Bernstein Award winner Katherine Boo accepts her award from Selection Chair Jim Hoge and NYPL President Tony Marx / Credit: Sean Scanlin
MAY 23 – World-renowned journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo received The New York Public Library’s 2013 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism last night at a ceremony and reception at the Library’s landmark building.
Boo, a staff writer for The New Yorker and former reporter and editor for The Washington Post, won the prestigious award for her beautifully-written Behind The Beautiful Forevers
, which delves into life in the slums of Mumbai, India and has already won the National Book Award.
The award – which since 1988 has been given to journalists whose books have brought clarity and public attention to important issues, events, or policies – comes with a $15,000 prize. Boo announced at the ceremony that she will be donating that money to the community in Mumbai that was the subject of her book.
2013 Bernstein winner Katherine Boo and Helen Bernstein Fealy / Credit: Sean Scanlin
“Consistently, the recipients of this award make the argument through their work that you can't just complain or accept that the American public don't give a damn about genocide in Rwanda or ruined lives in the inner city,” Boo said after receiving the award. “What this award symbolizes to me is that as a journalist working in the field, you have to report harder and work harder, until you make the American public give a damn. That’s what good writing with a capital ‘W’ is. Over the years, the Library has honored some bad-ass women, and has always honored hard-core, fierce reporting. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of it."
Behind the Beautiful Forevers was one of five finalists selected by an eight-member Library Review Committee, which received and read over 100 nominations from publishers. The winner was chosen by a separate Bernstein Selection Committee, chaired by Jim Hoge, an accomplished journalist and former editor of Foreign Affairs, who now chairs the International Center for Journalists. The finalists were:
· Confront and Concealby David Sanger (Crown Publishers)
· Spillover by David Quammen (W.W. Norton and Company)
Chandrasekaran, Sanger, and Wilber were all in attendance at the ceremony, which took place at the Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The guest speaker was media consultant and journalist Janet Janjigian.
Journalist Katherine Boo accepts the 2013 Bernstein Award at a May 22 ceremony. / Credit: Sean Scanlin
“Katherine Boo, and all of this year’s finalists, epitomize what the Bernstein Award is all about – great, strong, in-depth reporting that informs the public, shapes policy, and changes the world,” said New York Public Library President Tony Marx. “We are honored to recognize journalists of this caliber, whose dedication to the craft and to critically important topics is unparalleled.”
The Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism was established through a gift from Joseph Frank Bernstein, in honor of journalist Helen Bernstein (now Helen Bernstein Fealy).
About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 91 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org.
To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.