Tony Kushner, Rick Bayless and Shermann “Dilla” Thomas win 2022 Chicago Public Library Foundation Awards

Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner will receive the 2022 Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation, Top Chef and author Rick Bayless will receive the Arts Award and urban historian and TikTok sensation Shermann “Dilla” Thomas will receive the 21st Century Award.

Recipients will be honored during the Library Foundation Awards in person on October 12 and online on October 19. Legendary newscaster Bill Kurtis will emcee, and the evening’s centerpiece will be a conversation between Sandburg Literary Award honoree Kushner and Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Carl Sandburg Literary Award

The Carl Sandburg Literary Award is presented annually to an acclaimed author in recognition of outstanding contributions to the literary world and honors a significant work or body of work that has enhanced the public's awareness of the written word.

Tony Kushner is perhaps best known for his two-part epic, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes and the musical Caroline, or Change. He also has numerous screenwriting credits to his name, including the world-renowned Steven Spielberg films Munich, Lincoln and West Side Story. Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy award, two Tony awards, and an Olivier award, among others.

Arts Award

The Arts Award celebrates the power and impact of Chicago’s artistic community. Chef and author Rick Bayless has made exceptional contributions to the culinary arts, performing arts, and our city’s cultural landscape. In addition to his celebrated restaurants, including Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, he is the author of nine cookbooks  (Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, Fiesta at Rick's) and a dedicated philanthropist who supports small farms, scholarships for Chicago Public School students studying the culinary arts and Chicago theater companies.

21st Century Award

The 21st Century Award honors significant recent achievement in writing by a Chicago-based author. In presenting this award, the Library Foundation hopes to encourage the creation of new works and increase public awareness of the writer's talents. Through his dynamic use of social media, Shermann “Dilla” Thomas is changing the narrative about Chicago by highlighting its people, architecture, and impact on the world. His creativity makes Chicago's rich history accessible and engaging to a broad audience.

Currently, Dilla is a contributor to WBEZ as well as a freelance writer and content creator for the historic Chicago Defender and Block Club Chicago.