Editor's Note

Harper Lee Prize goes to Attica Locke's 'Pleasantville'


Attica Locke

Attica Locke.

The ABA Journal and the University of Alabama School of Law have chosen Pleasantville, a novel by Attica Locke, as the winner of the 2016 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

Locke is the sixth winner of the prize. The prize, authorized by Lee, is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

“I clearly recall the summer I read To Kill a Mockingbird and wrote my first stories on the back of my dad’s legal stationery,” Locke said. “There could be no higher praise for me than winning this prize. I am deeply moved.”

Pleasantville was chosen by a distinguished panel of writers. They are: Dr. Philip Beidler, author and professor of English, University of Alabama; Helen Ellis, author of American Housewife; Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys; Rheta Grimsley Johnson, author, journalist and syndicated columnist; and Angela Johnson, author of Wind Flyers and Heaven.

The Selection Committee said Pleasantville has beautiful prose and strong characters, much like To Kill a Mockingbird.

Pleasantville cover

“In Pleasantville, Attica Locke takes us out of a courtroom and into a lawyer’s home and heart,” Ellis said.

Locke will be honored with a signed special edition of To Kill a Mockingbird and a $3,000 cash award.

“I think the finalists this year were, collectively, the best in the history of the Harper Lee Prize,” said Allen Pusey, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal. “Pleasantville is a richly constructed narrative truly worthy of this recognition.”

Locke’s novel will be honored during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the National Book Festival. After the award presentation, the selection committee will convene a panel discussion of Pleasantville in relationship to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.


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