Three finalists for American Humor are all women
Thurber Prize judges have made it official: Women are funny, too. Nearly 20 years after its founding, the all-male winners’ circle for the Thurber Prize for American Humor is finally changing.
New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, actress-writer Annabelle Gurwitch and novelist Julie Schumacher were the finalists announced Monday by organizers of the US$5,000 prize.
Chast was cited for her graphic memoir about her parents, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” Gurwitch was included for her essay collection “I See You Made An Effort.” Schumacher was nominated for the academic satire, told in letters, called “Dear Committee Members.”
“The finalists share more than their gender in common — they are also all above the age of 50,” said awards judge Sloane Crosley, whose book of essays “I Was Told There’d Be Cake” was a finalist in 2009.
“Can we therefore extract from this shortlist, the idea that not only are women funny, but that they get funnier as time passes,” Crosley asked.
The award was established in 1996 and was named for late humorist James Thurber. Until this year, it had only been won by men, including Jon Stewart and David Sedaris.
Crosley said she and fellow judges Liza Donnelly and David Giffels had no other goal than to honor the year’s funniest books.
“Selecting these books was more like blissfully driving over the gap,” Crosley said, “turning around once on the other side and thinking, ‘Well, would you look at that? Isn’t that something?’”
This undated image released by Thurber House shows New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, who was named a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor on Monday, Aug. 24.