Lukas project honors books on slavery and immigration for this year’s awards

NEW YORK — Books about slavery, immigration and drug treatment are among this year’s winners of awards presented by the J. Anthony Lukas Project.

Jessica Goudeau’s “After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America” won the Lukas Book Prize, a $10,000 honor for a socially or politically themed work which demonstrates “literary grace, commitment to serious research, and original reporting.” The judges marked Goudeau’s novel as “explanatory, inspirational, gifted storytelling, employed in the cause of a great social good.”

The Mark Lynton History Prize, also worth $10,000, was given to William G. Thomas III for “A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War.” Thomas’ story is about multiple enslaved families in Maryland who filed lawsuits for freedom against slaveholders like the Jesuit priests who founded a college and owned some of the largest plantations in the country. 

Jessica Goudeau’s “After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America” wins the 2021 Lukas Book Prize. (Photo: Lisa Woods)

On Wednesday, the Lukas project also announced two work-in-progress awards, each with a $25,000 cash prize to help with the book’s completion: Emily Dufton, for “Addiction, Inc.: How the Corporate Takeover of America’s Treatment Industry Created a Profitable Epidemic,” a work based on the United States’ war on drugs and how it shifted to focusing on criminalization and revenue; and Casey Parks, for “Diary Of a Misfit,” a coming of age book about Parks’ growing up in the Deep South as a lesbian compared to the story of a transgender man who lived in both a protective and ostracizing environment. 

The Lukas project, based at Columbia University, is named for the late investigative reporter and author. The awards were established in 1998 and have previously been given to Robert Caro, Isabel Wilkerson for her novel “Caste” and Jill Lepore among others.

The virtual award ceremony to honor the writers will take place May 4. 

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