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Geographer, Author Richard Campanella To Recieve 20th Annual Louisiana Writer Award

Louisiana Travel

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana is proud to announce that Tulane University School of Architecture professor Richard Campanella has been selected as the recipient of the 20th Annual Louisiana Writer Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to documenting Louisiana’s history, culture, and people.

 “Louisiana’s literary talent and culture is so profound, attracting visitors from around the nation and world,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “We are proud to have Richard Campanella call our state home for the last 19 years, and I am excited that this award recognizes his writing and will introduce additional Louisiana readers to Campanella’s impressive body of historical work.”

 “Richard’s work brings to life the colorful and intriguing culture and history of Louisiana,” said State Librarian of Louisiana Rebecca Hamilton. “He and his work join celebrated past recipients such as Ernest Gaines, Valerie Martin, Elmore Leonard, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Sheryl St. Germain, to name a few. It is an honor to present this award to such a truly outstanding geographer and writer.”

 Originally from Brooklyn, Campanella remembers the moment, around 1971, when his curiosity was first piqued about far-away Louisiana. His parents were helping him read Meet Abraham Lincoln, in which author Barbara Cary described how “excited” young Abe felt about traveling “almost 1,000 miles” to a big exotic city “at the very end [of] the great Mississippi River.” Abe thought New Orleans “a wonderful place,” Cary explained to her juvenile readers, “but then he saw a market where slaves were being sold, [and] Abe did not like what he saw.” That was it. New Orleans would be Campanella’s destination.

 “I am honored to be recognized by the Louisiana Center for the Book with this award,” said Richard Campanella, 2019 Louisiana Writer Award recipient. “From reading about Louisiana in 1971 all the way to today, my passion and love for Louisiana has never wavered, and Louisiana has provided me with so much opportunity over the years. I look forward to continuing to chronicle and publish about the uniqueness of Louisiana and her people.”

 Some of Campanella’s works include Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans (University of Louisiana Press, 2008), which the New York Review of Books described as “the single best history of the city….masterful.” His biggest project, Geographies of New Orleans: Urban Fabrics Before the Storm (University of Louisiana Press, 2006), which he says “took five years and weighs five pounds,” came out just after Hurricane Katrina. “Stunning in its analytical precision[,] wrote The Times-Picayune; “filled with photographs, maps, timelines and beautifully written essays[;] it is, indeed, difficult to imagine just how much painstaking research went into this book…. Geographies of New Orleans is a powerful [and] dazzling book, unparalleled in its scope, precision, clarity and detail.”

 Campanella is the only two-time winner of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award. Other awards include the Louisiana Literary Award, the Williams Prize, the Malcolm Heard Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Hannah Arendt Prize for Public Scholarship, and the Tulane Honors Professor of the Year Award. In 2016, the Government of France named Campanella as Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.

 State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton will present Campanella with the 2019 Louisiana Writer Award on Saturday, November 2, at the opening ceremony of the Louisiana Book Festival at the State Capitol. Further information regarding Richard Campanella, all his books, and the Louisiana Writer Award can be found at, and by visiting his website at