On Tuesday, May 5, Barnard announced Sauleha Kamal ’15 as the recipient of the second annual Axinn Foundation/Anna Quindlen Award for Creative Writing. Thanks to the generosity of the Joan F. and Donald E. Axinn Foundation and in honor of Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Barnard alumna Anna Quindlen ’74, this prize is awarded annually to a graduating senior, who receives $25,000 to support her creative writing.
With the prize, the Axinn Foundation recognizes Quindlen’s outstanding contribution to American life and letters, and her sustained support for the education and development of young people. The Axinn Award was presented to Sauleha by Barnard President Debora Spar, together with Anna Quindlen and members of Barnard’s English faculty, at a reception on Barnard’s campus.
For Sauleha Kamal, a double major in economics and English with a concentration in creative writing, this award will allow her to concentrate on writing after she graduates on May 17. Last year, Barnard’s economics faculty awarded her the 2014 Alena Wels Hirschorn Prize for the best essay written by a junior, and Oxford University Press published her short story "26 Seconds"—written in her first-year fiction workshop at Barnard—in the anthology I'll Find My Way. She has been a contributing editor for the literary journal The Missing Slate since June 2013.
“Ironically enough for an English major and writing concentrator, learning that I was chosen as the recipient of this year’s Axinn Award left me mostly without words,” said Kamal, who is originally from Washington, D.C., and grew up in Islamabad, Pakistan, before returning to the U.S. for college. “To learn that Barnard has chosen to place this faith in me and support my writing after graduation is more remarkable than anything I could have imagined.”
Prof. Timea Szell, director of Barnard's creative writing program, headed up the selection committee, which included English faculty members Mary Gordon, Saskia Hamilton, Lisa Gordis, Jennifer Finney-Boylan, and Alexandra Horowitz. All were deeply impressed by Kamal’s commitment to her craft, as well as the quality of her writing, which Prof. Szell describes as “rich, lush, and poignant.”