Karen Tei Yamashita was awarded the 2021 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation on Nov. 17.
Yamashita is the 34th recipient of the award since it was created in 1988. Past recipients include Joan Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Stephen King.
In her acceptance speech, Yamashita said the award was especially significant to her community, given how the past year has been plagued by anti-Asian violence and hatred.
“Asian American literature is, at heart, a literature of politics and resistance,” Yamashita said.
Yamashita has written eight books, including a book of short stories about being Japanese American, “Sansei and Sensibility,” and “Through the Arc of the Rain Forest,” a novel about a Japanese expat living in Brazil amid an environmental crisis.