Marion Winik awarded 2019 Towson Prize for Literature

Local author, radio host and professor honored for The Baltimore Book of the Dead

By Jan Lucas on May 28, 2019

Baltimore resident Marion Winik has received this year’s Towson Prize for Literature for her critically acclaimed collection of intimate personal portraits.  

The Baltimore Book of the Dead (Counterpoint, 2018), a sequel to her beloved The Glen Rock Book of the Dead, has been hailed as “both brief and miraculous.”

Novelist Ann Patchett said of the book, “Every observation is a marvel, every sentence a heartbreak or a revelation of joy.”

Marion Winik
Marion Winik

In addition to The Baltimore Book of the Dead, Winik is the author of First Comes Love, Highs in the Low Fifties and seven other books.

She graduated from Brown University and received her MFA from Brooklyn College.

The host of The Weekly Reader radio show and podcast, she reviews books for Newsday, People, Kirkus Review and other venues; she is a board member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Her Bohemian Rhapsody column at has received the "Best Column" and "Best Humorist" awards from Baltimore magazine, and her essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Sun and many other publications.

Winik is a professor in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore. She has appeared on Today, Politically Incorrect and Oprah. Her honors include an NEA Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction.

The Baltimore book of the Dead approaches mourning and memory with intimacy, humor, and an eye for the idiosyncratic. It begins in the 1960s in the author’s native New Jersey, winds through Austin and rural Pennsylvania, and finally settles in  Baltimore.

Winik begins with a portrait of her mother, introducing locales and language around which other stories will orbit: the power of family, home, and love; the pain of loss and the tenderness of nostalgia; the backdrop of nature and public events. From there, she goes on to create a highly personal panorama of the last half century of American life. Joining her mother are the Man Who Could Take Off His Thumb, the Babydaddy, the Warrior Poetess, El Suegro, and the Thin White Duke, not to mention a miniature poodle and a goldfish. 

A Newsweek review of The Baltimore Book of the Dead noted that “Death is always in season, and it takes someone of Winik’s good humor and willingness to say, in essence, see that big door there? The one we are all going to walk through? Let’s just take a little look now, and know you will be remembered, that you are loved.”

Winik has been invited to come to Towson University to read from her work.

Established in 1979 with a grant from Alice and Franklin Cooley, the Towson University Prize for Literature is awarded annually for a single book or book-length manuscript of fiction, poetry, drama or imaginative nonfiction by a Maryland writer. The prize is granted on the basis of literary and aesthetic excellence as determined by a panel of distinguished judges appointed by the university.