Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, is most widely known for his book Night, an autobiographical account of his experiences as a concentration camp prisoner during World War II, which was first published in France in 1958 and has since has been translated into more than thirty languages. He is the author over fifty books of fiction and nonfiction, and has received the United States Congressional Medal of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Nobel Peace Prize.
"We are deeply honored to bestow the Chicago Tribune Literary Award upon Elie Wiesel, a man revered around the world as a living symbol of human rights," said Gerould Kern, editor of the Tribune. "Drawing upon his personal experiences as a Holocaust survivor, Mr. Wiesel's words have passionately and powerfully fought injustice and intolerance. He is a champion of the human spirit's capacity to overcome evil."
The Tribune also announced the 2012 recipients of the Heartland Prizes, which are given annually for works of fiction and nonfiction that "reinforce and perpetuate the values of Heartland America."
Novelist and short story writer Richard Ford won the prize in fiction for his novel Canada (Ecco, 2012), part of a series of novels that has garnered Ford both a Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Paul Hendrickson was awarded the prize in nonfiction for Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961 (Knopf, 2011).
"The Chicago Tribune Literary Prize and the Heartland Awards for fiction and nonfiction reflect the Tribune's dedication to literature and the spread of ideas and enlightenment," Kern said. "We truly are honored to recognize the work of writers who have made such enormous contributions to our culture."
The Heartland Prizes were established in 1988. The Literary Prize was first awarded in 2002, and has included such recipients as Margaret Atwood, Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Sam Shepard, and Tom Wolfe.