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Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Events


Fuller Award: Alex Kotlowitz

Tuesday, September 24, 2024

Chopin Theatre
1543 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60642

On September 24, Alex Kotlowitz will become the 17th recipient of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame’s Fuller Award for his lifetime achievements. The ceremony will be free and open to the public, with a reception to follow. Ben Austen will lead a speaking lineup that includes Eddie Bocanegra, Stuart Dybek, Julie Justicz, Meribah Knight, and Mary Rowland. The Chopin Theatre ceremony will highlight Kotlowitz's lasting importance as one of our greatest storytellers. At the end of the program, Dawn Turner will lead a conversation with Alex. 

As a Manhattan native, Alex Kotlowitz’s career in journalism sent him around the country. He took a reporting position for The Wall Street Journal, which sent him to Chicago, and it wasn’t long before Kotlowitz fell in love with the city. For forty years, Kotlowitz has been telling deeply intimate tales of struggle and perseverance. He is the author of four books, including his most recent, An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago (2019), which received the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize. His other books include the Chicago-based Never a City So Real (2004) and the national bestseller There Are No Children Here (1991), which the New York Public Library selected as one of the 150 most important books of the twentieth century. It was selected by The New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year along with his second book, The Other Side of the River (1998) which also received The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Nonfiction. 

A former staff writer at The Wall Street Journal, Kotlowitz’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and This American Life. His stories have been featured in Granta, Rolling Stone, The Chicago Tribune, Slate, and The Washington Post, as well as on PBS and NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. His play, An Unobstructed View, written with Amy Drozdowska, premiered in Chicago in June 2005.

Kotlowitz has also produced a significant body of film and radio work. His documentary, The Interrupters (2011), a collaboration with Steve James, was cited as one of the best films of the year by The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, and The LA Times. He received an Emmy, a Cinema Eye Award, and an Independent Spirit Award for the film. 

Kotlowitz has been honored in all three mediums, including two Peabodys, two Columbia duPonts, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the George Polk Award. He’s the recipient of eight honorary degrees, the John LaFarge Memorial Award for Interracial Justice given by New York’s Catholic Interracial Council, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, one of Chicago Magazine’s 2019 Chicagoans of the Year, and the 2019 Harold Washington Literary Award. 

Alex is currently a professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, where he’s been teaching since 1999. He’s been a writer-in-residence at the University of Chicago, a visiting professor for seven years at the University of Notre Dame, a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, and a Distinguished Visitor at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 

Registration for the Fuller Award ceremony will open soon.

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