Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – For her work in The Secret of Magic, Deborah Johnson will receive the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. The prize, authorized by Lee and co-sponsored by The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal, is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.
Johnson is the first woman and African-American author to win the coveted Prize.
“I am thrilled and I thank The University of Alabama, the ABA Journal, and the judges so very much for this wonderful honor,” Johnson said.
The Secret of Magic was chosen by a distinguished panel of judges. They are: Wayne Flynt, author and Alabama historian; Mary McDonagh Murphy, independent film and television writer and producer; and Michele Norris, NPR host and special correspondent.
The Selection Committee said The Secret of Magic embodies the spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Unforgettable characters, suspense that builds straight to the last pages and straight plain prose, all the necessary ingredients to win a prize named for Harper Lee. Deborah Johnson does a lovely job,” Murphy said.
Johnson’s book, The Secret of Magic, will be honored during a ceremony on Sept. 3, at 5 p.m., at the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the National Book Festival. Following the award presentation, the Selection Committee will convene a panel discussion of The Secret of Magic, in relationship to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Johnson was born below the Mason-Dixon Line, in Missouri, but grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. After college, she lived in San Francisco and then for many years in Rome, Italy, where she worked as a translator and editor of doctoral theses and at Vatican Radio. Deborah Johnson is the author of The Air Between Us, which received the Mississippi Library Association Award for fiction. She now lives in Columbus, Mississippi, and is working on her next novel.
One of America’s leading public law schools, and the “#1 Best Value Law School” in the nation, according to the National Jurist, for two years in a row (2012 and 2013), The University of Alabama School of Law offers a challenging curriculum with over 150 electives, several dual enrollment opportunities, Master of Laws degrees, and a J.S.D. With a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately 11:1, the Law School offers students a rigorous, hands-on learning experience, with strong student engagement in clinical programs, law review, moot court, and trial advocacy.