Sonny Mehta, publisher of Alfred A. Knopf, has been named the recipient of an award for lifetime achievement in publishing from the Asian American Writers Workshop (AAWW). Mehta, who came to Knopf in 1987 after several years as a successful publisher in England, will be honored for his work with authors such as Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, V. S. Naipaul, and Michael Ondaatje at a dinner in New York City on Friday.
The ceremony will commence the AAWW's first Page Turner literary festival, held at Brooklyn's powerHouse Arena on Saturday. During the event, the winners of the twelfth Asian American Literary Award, given for books published in 2008, will also be honored. They are poet Sesshu Foster, fiction writer Jhumpa Lahiri, and creative nonfiction writer Leslie T. Chang. Foster received the prize for his collection World Ball Notebook (City Lights Publishers), and Lahiri for her short story collection Unaccustomed Earth (Knopf). Chang won for Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China (Spiegel & Grau).
The runners up are, in poetry, Jeffrey Yang for An Aquarium (Graywolf Press) and Monica Ferrell for Beasts for the Chase (Sarabande Books); in fiction, Ed Park for Personal Days (Random House) and Amitav Ghosh for Sea of Poppies (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); and in creative nonfiction, Kavita Rajagopalen for Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West (Rutgers University Press) and Kau Kalia Yang for Late Homecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press).
The AAWW is offering tickets to the dinner honoring Mehta and the literary awards ceremony on the Page Turner Web site.
In the video below, poetry award winner Foster talks about investigating the human spirit through literature.