Shared from the 2017-02-28 Chattanooga eEdition

Le Guin, Patchett voted into Academy of Arts and Letters

NEW YORK — Not even an honorary National Book Award kept Ursula K. Le Guin from being surprised by her latest tribute: membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

“My reputation was made as a writer of fantasy and science fiction, a literature that has mostly gone without such honors,” she told The Associated Press recently.

Known for such classics as “The Left Hand of Darkness” and “The Dispossessed,” Le Guin has won numerous science fiction and fantasy awards, but only in recent years has she received more literary recognition, notably a National Book Award medal in 2014. The arts academy, an honorary society with a core membership of 250 writers, artists, composers and architects, once shunned “genre” writers such as Le Guin. Even such giants as science fiction writer Ray Bradbury and crime novelist Elmore Leonard never got in.

The 87-year-old Le Guin is one of 14 new core members. Others include fiction writers Junot Diaz, Ann Patchett, Amy Hempel and Colum McCann, former U.S. poet laureate Kay Ryan and fellow poets Henri Cole and Edward Hirsch. The academy also voted in the artists Mary Heilmann, Julie Mehretu and Stanley Whitney, architect Annabelle Selldorf and composers Melinda Wagner and Julia Wolfe.

The arts academy was founded in 1898, with members since ranging from Henry James and William Dean Howells to Chuck Close and Stephen Sondheim. The new inductees will be welcomed at a ceremony at the New Yorkbased academy in May.

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