For Faculty Authors At Rutgers University, Newark, 2009 Was A Very Good Year For Awards, Recognition

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Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, “Best Books” Lists Among Honors

NEWARK, N.J. –  As the Chinese bid farewell to the Year of the Ox, Rutgers University, Newark, applauds the Year of the  Faculty Author, closing the book on what is its finest year in memory for literary achievements by faculty.

Between November 2008 and today, honors earned by four faculty authors included a Pulitzer Prize (history), a National Book Award for non-fiction, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award, among others.  One author is being hailed for ripping the lid off the Sept. 11 attacks on America, while all four authors’ works received rave reviews from national media, including three named to several lists of  “notable” or “best” books of 2009.

Here is an overview of the works and authors which made the last 14 months a special literary era at Rutgers University in Newark; for more information, including links to reviews, please see the “Reading Room” at

ANNETTE G , The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Rutgers Board of Governors Professor of History Annette Gordon-Reed’s critically acclaimed book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, received the 2008 National Book Award for nonfiction  in November, the  2009 Pulitzer Prize in History, the George Washington Book Prize, a 2009 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the 2009 New Jersey Council of the Humanities Book Award, and the 2009 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, among others.

The painstakingly researched book examines the relationship between Sally Hemings and her master, Thomas Jefferson. Gordon-Reed describes her 800-page work as “a window into the world of slavery, an illumination of our past, a past that brought us to where we are today.” It is her second book exploring the Jefferson-Hemings relationship.


Lark and Termiterofessor Jayne Anne Phillips is the founder and program director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Rutgers University in Newark. Her fourth novel, Lark & Termite, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the 2009 Heartland Prize.  A coming-of-age novel, it centers on 17-year-old Lark; 9-year-old Termite, her severely disabled half brother; their caretaker and maternal aunt, Nonie; their mother Lola; and Corporal Robert Leavitt, Termite’s father.

The San Francisco Chronicle named Lark & Termite one of the best books of 2009, as did New Yorker writer Lauren Collins and New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani.

Pulitzer-Prize winning author Junot Diaz called Lark & Termite the best novel he had read all year.

B , Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America
The daughter of a civil rights attorney, History Professor Satter drew on her father’s legal files, her own investigative research and personal family history to write a gripping account of discriminatory federal housing policies and financial exploitation that led to ghettoization in Chicago and other American cities.

Writing in The Washington Post, historian David Garrow, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning biographer, said Family Properties is “the most important book yet written on the black freedom struggle in the urban North.”

New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner listed Family Properties as one of his “Top 10 Books of 2009,” and both The Washington Post Book World and The Progressive named Family Properties one of the “10 Best Books of the Year for 2009.”

JOHN J. FARMER JR., The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11
The Ground TruthRutgers Law Dean John J. Farmer Jr. drew on declassified tapes, transcripts and records, as well as his experience as a principal author of the 9/11 Commission Report, to write a compelling  account of the federal government’s response on Sept. 11, 2001.  Farmer contends that the government has failed to acknowledge the entire truth and facts leading up to 9/11, creating a false sense of order and security.

The book has received much media attention, and The New York Times Book Review listed The Ground Truth as one of “100 Notable Books of 2009,” as well as reviewing it favorably. The book also was reviewed in Publishers Weekly, and earned praise from fellow 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey.

Farmer is a frequent contributor to The Star-Ledger and The New York Times, writing essays and opinion columns.

Media Contact: Carla Capizzi,
Family PropertiesERYL SATTER
The Hemingses of MonticelloORDON-REED