2023 Chautauqua Prize Winner Announced

image of The Song of The Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee with Chautauqua Prize Winner badge

Chautauqua Institution has announced The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human (Scribner) by Siddhartha Mukherjee as the 2023 winner of The Chautauqua Prize. 


Awarded annually since 2012, The Chautauqua Prize celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and to honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. As author of this year’s winning book, Mukherjee receives $7,500, and will be presented with the Prize during a celebratory event and public reading at 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Chautauqua’s Hall of Philosophy. 


Mukherjee’s book, the first Prize winner so extensively dedicated to the hard sciences, stands apart in the tradition of doctor-writers due to the poetic, almost cosmic tone of its language, said Sony Ton-Aime, the Michael I. Rudell Director of the Literary Arts at Chautauqua Institution. 


“I have read authors who write about science with such verve and beautiful prose, and I have read scientists with deep command and knowledge on their subject matters, but never have I seen the two collide so well,” Ton-Aime said. “Siddhartha Mukherjee has made centuries of serious scientific knowledge accessible to everyone through lively and masterful prose. This makes The Song of the Cell the perfect book to win the Prize this year, as it undoubtedly is a richly rewarding reading experience and is a significant contribution to our world that will stand for ages.” 


The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human begins in the late 1600s, when the Pulitzer Prize-winning author introduces us to English polymath Robert Hooke and Dutch cloth merchant Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. The two men looked down their handmade microscopes and saw something that introduced a radical concept that altered biology and medicine forever. It was the fact that complex living organisms are assemblages of tiny, self-contained, self-regulating units — “cells,” Hooke christened them — that build our organs, our physiology and our selves. The Song of the Cell tells the story of how scientists discovered cells, began to understand them, and are now using that knowledge to create new humans. In his exploration — both panoramic and intimate — of what it means to be human, Mukherjee uses his expertise to make “a very important and complex topic accessible,” one Prize reader said. “Mukherjee is a phenomenal writer and storyteller,” another shared, who, in his “wonderful book,” “… has a way of explaining concepts in an interesting way that entices one to keep reading.”   


Since first appearing on bookshelves in October 2022, The Song of the Cell has been named a New York Times Notable Book and a “Best Book of the Year” by publications and organizations as diverse as The Economist, Oprah Daily, BookPage, Book Riot and the New York Public Library, among others. It was the winner of the 2023 PROSE Award for Excellence in Biological and Life Sciences from the Association of American Publishers. Since 1976, the PROSE Awards have recognized best-in-class scholarly publications and publishers who produce books, journals, and digital products of extraordinary merit that make a significant contribution to a field of study. 


For The Song of the Cell to be lauded in critical, academic, and mainstream circles alike, noted Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill, indicates both the book’s depth and breadth, and its author’s mastery of his craft. 


“Dr. Mukherjee has spent his medical career probing further and further the question of our most minuscule components, and how they impact the full scope of our bodies and our being. It is work that is both microscopic and sweeping; infinitesimal and magnificently infinite,” Hill said. “Similarly, his literary career is a natural extension of this path. Dr. Mukherjee’s writing is at once academic and accessible. Beyond that, he makes the complex compelling, conveying the hard science of the cellular into grand, almost mythic prose that encompasses the largest questions of philosophy and humanity. With this approach, he inspires and empowers his readers toward a greater understanding of the science of our lives.” 


Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Gene: An Intimate History, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller; The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction; and The Laws of Medicine. He is editor of The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013. Mukherjee is an associate professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. Widely published, his articles have appeared in journals and periodicals that include Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, Cell, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker. 

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2023 Chautauqua Prize Shortlist

2023 Chautauqua Prize Shortlist titles, stackedChautauqua Institution has announced 11 exceptional books as the 2023 finalists for The Chautauqua Prize, now in its 12th year. These 11 books represent the largest group of finalists ever selected for the Prize, from a yet-again record-breaking number of submissions from publishers, agents and authors. Awarded annually since 2012, The Chautauqua Prize draws upon Chautauqua Institution’s considerable literary legacy to celebrate a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and to honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. The winning book will be selected from these finalists and announced in early June.  Read the full announcement on chq.org.

Congratulations to all the finalists!

(A note to CLSC members: remember that while the prize-winning selection counts toward graduation requirements, the rest of the list will not.  We're excited about all of them, though, and you should read them anyway!)

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The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human By Siddhartha Mukherjee Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982117351
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 25th, 2022

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The Song of the Cell is the Winner of the 2023 Chautauqua Prize! 
Read the announcement on chq.org.

The Black Period: On Personhood, Race, and Origin By Hafizah Augustus Geter Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593448649
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - September 20th, 2022

Border Hacker: A Tale of Treachery, Trafficking, and Two Friends on the Run By Levi Vonk Cover Image
ISBN: 9781645037057
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bold Type Books - April 26th, 2022

A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times: Stories By Meron Hadero Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632061188
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Restless Books - June 28th, 2022

Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel By Jenny Tinghui Zhang Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250811806
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - April 4th, 2023

Horse: A Novel By Geraldine Brooks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399562969
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - June 14th, 2022

The Latecomer: A Novel By Jean Hanff Korelitz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250790798
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Celadon Books - May 31st, 2022

Night of the Living Rez By Morgan Talty Cover Image
ISBN: 9781953534187
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - July 5th, 2022

The Orchard: A Novel By Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593356036
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - March 7th, 2023

Solito: A Memoir By Javier Zamora Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593498064
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - September 6th, 2022

Stories from the Tenants Downstairs By Sidik Fofana Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982145811
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - August 16th, 2022

SKU: 2023PrizeFinalists

CLSC Announcement: Patient Zero

Patient Zero with CLSC badgeThe Department of Education has announced Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases by Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen, as a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week Three of the 2023 Summer Assembly Season: “Can the Center Hold? – A Question for Our Moment.”

Winner of the 2022 Nebraska Book Award in the category of Nonfiction Popular History, Patient Zero is the second nonfiction book by Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen.

As the title suggests, Patient Zero tells the curious stories of 21 of the most well-known diseases to our species and their patient zeros. Each chapter focuses on one disease’s origin story, its impact, and plenty of other interesting facts. Through this amalgam of stories, the book traces the fascinating history of disease outbreaks – how they start and spread, the science that lets us understand them, and how we race to contain them.

The stories are gripping and instructive. Amy Stewart, the author of The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Bugs, writes that “some of these stories read like gripping crime novel, some like Victorian tragedies, and some like futuristic thriller. Patient Zero is essential and entertaining reading.”

Lydia Kang is an author of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine and is a practicing physician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine.

Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. Along with Nate Pedersen, she is the co-author of the 2023 CLSC selection Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and a Nebraska Book Award for nonfiction. Their first book, Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, was an NPR Science Friday Best Science Book of 2017. Her adult historical fiction includes the bestselling novels A Beautiful Poison, The Impossible Girl, Opium and Absinthe, and The Half-Life of Ruby Fielding. Her young adult novels include Control, Catalyst, Toxic, and The November Girl, a 2018 Nebraska Book Award winner. She is also the author of the recently released Star Wars: Cataclysm, set in the era of the High Republic. 

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Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World's Worst Diseases By Lydia Kang, MD, Nate Pedersen Cover Image

CLSC Announcement: Pride and Prejudice

The Department of Education has announced Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, as a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week Six of the 2023 Summer Assembly Season: “A Life of Literature.” 


Pride and Prejudice with CLSC badgeAs we consider the life of literature, we look to the classic Pride and Prejudice and its persistent relevance. Actor and playwright Kate Hamill — who wrote a stage adaption of the novel that will be produced by Chautauqua Theater Company this summer — will present Austen’s work for the CLSC and discuss Pride and Prejudice’s influence on her as a writer and an actor. 


Pride and Prejudice retains a fascination for modern readers, often appearing near the top of countless lists of “most-loved books.” Since its publication in 1813 it has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Likewise, it has paved the way for archetypes that abound in many contemporary literary works of our time. Modern interest in the book has resulted in several dramatic adaptations, including Hamill’s.


Set in England at the turn of the 19th century, Pride and Prejudice is the story of the Bennet family — Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and their five unmarried daughters — whose lives in the Hertfordshire countryside are changed with the arrival of two new neighbors. The rich and eligible Mr. Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, while his status-conscious friend — the even more rich and eligible Mr. Darcy — is disdainful of local society and repeatedly clashes with the Bennets' lively second daughter, Elizabeth.


Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist whose penchant for witty social commentary, celebrated romantic plots, and feminine perspective make her one of the most celebrated authors in British literature. Her novels deal primarily with the social lives of English landed gentry, especially the expectations of and about women, and the necessity of securing a good marriage. Although Austen herself never married, novels like Sense and SensibilityPride and Prejudice and Emma are considered classics of the early 19th-century romantic genre and are still widely read today.


Kate Hamill is an American actor and playwright. As playwright, she is known for her innovative, contemporary adaptations of classic novels for the stage, including Sense and Sensibility (in which she originated the role of Marianne) and Pride and Prejudice (in which she originated the role of Lizzy Bennet). CTC’s production of Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice runs July 22-30, 2023, in Bratton Theater.

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Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen, Vivien Jones (Editor), Vivien Jones (Introduction by), Vivien Jones (Notes by) Cover Image

CLSC Announcement: Dr. No

Dr. No cover image wit CLSC badgeThe Department of Education has announced Dr. No by Percival Everett, as a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week Two of the 2023 Summer Assembly Season: “Games: A Celebration of Our Most Human Pastimes.”

Winner of the 2023 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, Dr. No is the latest novel from the prolific, genre-bending, experimental writer, Percival Everett.

Dr. No, which borrows its title from the early James Bond story and subsequent film, tells the “unhinged” story of a brilliant professor of mathematics, Wala Kitu. (Wala, he explains, means “nothing” in Tagalog, and Kitu is Swahili for “nothing.” His parents, he says, were mathematicians and believed that two negatives yielded a positive.) He is an expert on nothing. That is to say he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. 


In this novel, nothing is real, and it is worth breaking into Fort Knox to steal it. Or at least, this is what Wala Kitu’s employer and eccentric billionaire John Sill, who wants to become a literal James Bond villain, believes.


Dr. No is a wildly mischievous novel from one of our most inventive, provocative, and productive writers. It is a caper, a play on concepts, and a dizzying literary game about nothing. That it is about nothing isn’t to say that it’s not about anything.


Mr. Everett will offer a masterclass talk on craft followed by an audience Q&A before his presentation. The time and location will be announced soon.


Percival Everett is the author of more than thirty novels and story collections, including Dr. NoThe Trees, TelephoneSo Much BluePercival Everett by Virgil Russell, I Am Not Sidney Poitier and Erasure. Everett has won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle, the Dos Passos Prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, the PEN Center USA Award for Fiction, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction, The 2010 Believer Book Award, the Premio Gregor von Rezzori, a Creative Capital Award, BS the Academy Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Everett is currently Distinguished Professor of English at University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Dr. No: A Novel By Percival Everett Cover Image

CLSC Announcements: One Hundred Saturdays & The Lincoln Highway

The Department of Education has announced One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World by Michael Frank, as a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week One of the 2023 Summer Assembly Season: “On Friendship.”

One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank with CLSC badgeOne Hundred Saturdays is the remarkable story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale.

 Probing and courageous, candid and sly, Stella is a magical modern-day Scheherazade whose stories reveal what it was like to grow up in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time—and to construct a life after that place has vanished. One Hundred Saturdays is a portrait of one of the last survivors drawn at nearly the last possible moment, as well as an account of a tender and transformative friendship that develops between storyteller and listener as they explore the fundamental mystery of what it means to collect, share, and interpret the deepest truths of a life deeply lived.

 Michael Frank is the author of What Is Missing, a novel, and The Mighty Franks, a memoir, which was awarded the 2018 JQ Wingate Prize and was named one of the best books of the year by The Telegraph and The New Statesman.  One Hundred Saturdays received the Jewish Book Council’s Natan Notable Book Award and was one of the Wall Street Journal’s top ten books of 2022.  Frank is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow and lives with his family in New York City and Camogli, Italy. 

The Department of Education has also announced The Lincoln Highway  by Amor Towles as both a Chautauqua Lecture Series confirmation and Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week Five: “Infrastructure: Building and Maintaining the Physical, Social and Civic Underpinnings of Society.”The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles with CLSC badge

Amor Towles’ beloved novels — translated into more than 30 languages — have each been New York Times bestsellers, collectively selling more than 6 million copies. His latest, 2021’s The Lincoln Highway, debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, was a “Today Show” Read with Jenna Book Club Pick, one of The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2021 and a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. A propulsive, road-trip novel set in 1950s America, it is this book that Towles returns to the grounds to discuss in a joint Chautauqua Lecture Series and Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle presentation, uplifting the legacy of the first transcontinental highway in the United States and its place in both our country’s legacy and its infrastructure. 

Having worked as an investment professional for over 20 years, Towles published his first novel, Rules of Civility, in 2011. Named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011, its French translation received the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. His second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, which was a CLSC selection in 2018 and saw Towles take the podium at the Hall of Philosophy that summer, was named one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR. Both Bill Gates and President Barack Obama included A Gentleman in Moscow and The Lincoln Highway on their annual book recommendation lists.  

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One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World By Michael Frank, Maira Kalman (Illustrator) Cover Image
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The Lincoln Highway: A Novel By Amor Towles Cover Image

Weekend Sleigh Rides

Sleigh (or wagon) rides are back!

Rides are expected every Saturday and Sunday in January and February, beginning on New Year's Eve, December 31.

Rides will begin at 1pm, leaving from the parking lot next to the Bookstore roughly every half-hour.  The last ride leaves around 3pm.  Rides are approximately 40 minutes long, so please dress for the weather.  Rides may be cancelled due to rain, ice, or unsafe temperatures.

There are no reservations.  Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children, and may be purchased at the Bookstore on the day.  We do not start selling tickets until rides for the day are confirmed, which is sometimes when the horses arrive!

We hope to see you there!

Snow Horses: A First Night Story By Patricia MacLachlan, Micha Archer (Illustrator) Cover Image

New CLSC Selection Announced: Under the Skin

photo of book "Under the Skin" with CLSC badge

Chautauqua Institution's Department of Education has announced Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nationby Linda Villarosa, as a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week Four of the 2023 Summer Assembly Season: “The State of Believing.”

Named a best book of 2022 by 6 publications, including NPR, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, Under the Skin is “perhaps the most important and thought-provoking publication of the year,” (Oprah Daily).

 Under the Skin is a landmark book that tells the full story of racial health disparities in America by revealing the toll racism takes on individuals and public health. Villarosa lays bare the forces in the American health-care system and in American society that cause Black people to “live sicker and die quicker” compared to their white counterparts. Study after study of medical settings show worse treatment and outcomes for Black patients. Black people live in dirtier, more polluted communities due to environmental racism and neglect from all levels of government. And, most powerfully, Villarosa describes the new understanding that coping with the daily scourge of racism ages Black people prematurely.

In addition to being a CLSC Selection, Under the Skin has been selected in collaboration with Chautauqua’s African American Heritage House as the Mirror Project Reading Circle selection for April 2023, and the Chautauqua County Book Read selection in partnership with Chautauqua’s IDEA office, the YWCA of Jamestown, and other local organizations. More information about the county wide book read will be available at https://www.ywcajamestown.com/chqbookread around mid-February. All Chautauquans are invited to participate in either book read options as both in-person and online discussion groups will be available.

 Author and New York Times Magazine journalist, Linda Villarosa is the author of 2023 CLSC selection, Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation, which was named one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2022. As a contributor to The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project and The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, she traced the race-based physiological myths that have endured since slavery and continue to plague medicine today. A former executive editor of Essence Magazine, Villarosa is a member of the Association of LGBTQ Journalists (NLGJA) Hall of Fame, and has been recognized with numerous awards from organizations including the American Medical Writers’ Association, the New York Association of Black Journalists, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and many others. Villarosa is a graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, was a finalist for the National Magazine Award. She teaches journalism, English and Black Studies at the City College of New York.

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New CLSC Selection Announced: The Wild Fox of Yemen

Chautauqua Institution's Department of Education has announced The Wild Fox of Yemen, by Threa Almontaser, as a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week Nine of the 2023 Summer Assembly Season: “The Global South: Expanding the Scope of Geopolitical Understanding.”

 The winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, The Wild Fox of Yemen won both the 2021 Maya Angelou Book Award and the 2021 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, among other distinctions. photo of book 'The Wild Fox of Yemen' with CLSC badge

 Threa Almontaser’s debut collection of poems asks how mistranslation can be a form of self-knowledge and survival. A love letter to the country and people of Yemen, a portrait of young Muslim womanhood in New York after 9/11, and an extraordinarily composed examination of what it means to carry in the body the echoes of what came before, Almontaser’s polyvocal collection sneaks artifacts to and from worlds, repurposing language and adapting to the space between cultures. 

During a week when we will turn our focus to the global south for what we have too often overlooked or misunderstood from these parts of the world, we will consider, through The Wild Fox of Yemen and Almontaser’s presentation, the role of language and what might lay beyond the limits of the American imagination.

 Threa Almontaser is the author of the debut poetry collection The Wild Fox of Yemen (CLSC 2023), nominated for the National Book Awards and winner of the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American poets, the Maya Angelou Book Award, the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, and the Arab American Book Award. She is a recipient of writing fellowships from Duke University and the Fulbright Program. She earned her MFA from North Carolina State University and teaches English to immigrants and refugees in her area. 

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