Thurber Prize for American Humor

The Thurber Prize for American Humor is the only recognition of the art of humor writing in the United States. A panel of national judges selects the three finalists from a selection of seven or eight semi-finalists. Submissions are closed for the 2017 Thurber Prize.

Thurber House is pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 Thurber Prize for American Humor:

TREVOR NOAH
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood


Trevor Noah - Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston

Trevor Noah - Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston

At a ceremony at Carolines on Broadway in New York City on October 2, 2017, Trevor Noah was awarded the 2017 Thurber Prize for American Humor for his memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. He receives $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and is invited to Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio as a featured guest at a special event.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. Noah's stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

The runners up for the Thurber Prize are:

 
Ken Pisani - Amp'd Photo Credit: Coco Knudson

Ken Pisani - Amp'd
Photo Credit: Coco Knudson

Aaron Thier - Mr. Eternity Photo Credit: Audrey Thier

Aaron Thier - Mr. Eternity
Photo Credit: Audrey Thier

 

The judges for the 2017 Thurber Prize were:

Joe Blundo: Joe Blundo's column, So To Speak, began appearing in the lifestyle section of The Columbus Dispatch in May 1997. It's a mix of humor, human interest and information. In 2002, Joe won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists contest for humor writing in large newspapers. He has been at The Columbus Dispatch since 1978.

Julie Schumacher: Julie Schumacher's first published story, "Reunion," written to fulfill an undergraduate writing assignment ("tell a family tale") was reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 1983. Subsequent stories were published in The Atlantic, MS, Minnesota Monthly, and Prize Stories: The O.Henry Awards 1990 and 1996. Julie is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota. She is the first female winner of the Thurber Prize for her book Dear Committee Members.

Ian Frazier: Ian Frazier is a staff writer at The New Yorker. He has been contributing to the magazine since 1974, when he published his first piece in The Talk of the Town. Since then, he has published numerous short stories and nonfiction, Shouts & Murmurs, and Talk of the Town pieces in the magazine. He is the author of eleven books, and a two-time winner of the Thurber Prize for his books Coyote v. Acme and Lamentations of the Father.

 
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The Thurber Prize for American Humor is made possible by the Greater Columbus Arts Council
and an anonymous family fund of The Columbus Foundation.

Click here for a list of past Thurber Prize winners and finalists.

Thanks to an anonymous fund of The Columbus Foundation and to the Greater Columbus Arts Council for support of this program.