The Pattis Family Foundation and the Newberry Library Announce 2023 Chicago Book Award Recipient

Chicago Author Toya Wolfe to receive the $25,000 Pattis Book Award for her debut novel, Last Summer on State Street

CHICAGO, May 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Newberry Library and The Pattis Family Foundation are pleased to announce the winner of the second annual $25,000 Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award. Toya Wolfe, author of Last Summer on State Street, will receive the award, which celebrates works that transform public understanding of Chicago, its history, and its people.

Toya Wolfe’s debut novel is an endearing, memorable, and page-turning work with broad appeal and deep ‘Chicago heart,'” said Daniel Greene, former President and Librarian of the Newberry and Pattis Award jury member. “Set during an important turning point in the history of public housing in Chicago, Last Summer on State Street is a compelling story of friendship, community, and home.”

“It is such an incredible blessing to receive the Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award,” said Toya Wolfe. “Last Summer on State Street is my debut novel, and to win a prestigious award for my first literary endeavor is wildly affirming and will support me as I begin writing a new novel and TV pilots. I am so grateful to The Pattis Family Foundation and the Newberry Library for establishing this award; on behalf of Chicago writers, thank you for all the ways in which you lift us up and cheer us on!”

The Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award is open to writers working in a variety of genres, including history, biography, social sciences, poetry, drama, graphic novels, and fiction—all relating to Chicago. Dawn Turner received the inaugural Pattis Award in 2022 for Three Girls from Bronzeville.

In addition to awarding Toya Wolfe, the juried panel also recognizes Heather Hendershot as the shortlist award recipient for authoring When the News Broke: Chicago 1968 and the Polarizing of America. Hendershot will receive an award of $2,500.

Mark and Lisa Pattis of The Pattis Family Foundation commented: “The purpose of our series of book awards is to shine a spotlight on exemplary books and to enhance public understanding of various subject matters. We are delighted to continue our partnership with the Newberry Library in order to engage Chicagoans with authors and works that transform understanding of our city, its history, and its people. The selection of Toya Wolfe’s poignant debut novel, Last Summer on State Street, is a terrific fit with the prize’s goal. Our congratulations to Toya and our gratitude to the Newberry and the committee members.”

The presentation of the 2023 Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award takes place at a free, public event at the Newberry Library on Saturday, July 15, 2023. Toya Wolfe will receive the award and discuss Last Summer on State Street with Gail Kern Paster, Interim President and Librarian at the Newberry. The event will also serve as a celebration of the power of storytelling and Chicago, featuring a roster of speakers whose work in the city strives to change our communities for the better.

About Last Summer on State Street

Felicia “Fe Fe” Stevens lives with her loving mother and older brother in Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes. It’s the summer of 1999, and her high-rise is to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. She and two other girls from the housing project form a tentative trio and carve out for themselves a simple life of double Dutch and innocence. As their beloved neighborhood falls down around them, so too do their friendships and the structures of their families. Decades later, as she remembers that fateful summer — just before her home was demolished, her life uprooted, and community forever changed—Fe Fe tries to make sense of the grief and fraught bonds that still haunt her and attempts to reclaim the love that never left.

Profound, reverent, and uplifting, Last Summer on State Street explores the risk of connection against the backdrop of racist institutions, the restorative power of knowing and claiming one’s own past, and those defining relationships which form the heartbeat of our lives. Interweaving moments of reckoning and sustaining grace, debut author Toya Wolfe has crafted an era-defining story of finding a home—both in one’s history and in one’s self.

About the Newberry Library

The Newberry Library—free and open to the public—fosters a deeper understanding of our world by inspiring research and learning in the humanities and encouraging conversations about ideas that matter to diverse audiences. The Newberry’s extensive collection includes maps, city directories, printed histories, newspapers and periodicals, and archival materials documenting business, journalism, publishing, activism, and the arts across Chicago and the Midwest. Every year, thousands of writers, artists, scholars, teachers, and students visit the Newberry, contributing to its diverse community of learning.

About The Pattis Family Foundation

With a history originating from book and magazine publishing, The Pattis Family Foundation actively supports programs that elevate the value of the written word and intellectual inquiry. In addition, The Pattis Family Foundation supports various health, educational, and cultural initiatives as well as programs that help bridge the opportunity gap for talented students with limited financial resources.

Media Contact:
Vanessa Walilko

(312) 702-1342, ext 5

SOURCE The Newberry Library