In 2003, the board of directors of Fall for the Book established the Fairfax Prize to honor outstanding writers for their literary achievements. Recipients of the award are noted for achievements in the following criteria:
- Writing and publishing excellent works that contribute significantly to American or international culture
- Generously giving personal time and talents to the development of literature and literary endeavors
- Mentoring younger writers, which includes but is not limited to teaching
- Giving special service to the community of writers, such as editing anthologies or journals that give opportunities for publication to other writers.
The recipient is honored at a special reading and reception during the festival, at which time he or she is given a monetary prize and the Fairfax Prize statue. In 2007, the Fairfax Library Foundation began sponsoring the Fairfax Prize, contributing the prize amount and helping to select the recipient.
Previous winners of the Fairfax Prize include:
2003 — Tobias Wolff
2004 — Joyce Carol Oates
2005 — Norman Mailer (unable to attend; see “Fall for the Book Prize” below)
2006 — No prize presented
2007 — Mitch Albom
2008 — Michael Cunningham
2009 — E.L. Doctorow
2010 — Ann Patchett
2011 — Amy Tan
The 2012 Fairfax Prize will be presented to Michael Chabon on Sunday, September 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall, Center for the Arts, on George Mason University's Fairfax, Virginia, campus. The general public can make reservations for this event on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, August 15; email firstname.lastname@example.org the event you wish to attend and the names of each person attending.
The Fall for the Book Prize
Norman Mailer had been scheduled to receive the 2005 Fairfax Prize, but because of health issues, he had to cancel his appearance at the last minute. The festival was very grateful that novelist Pat Conroy
agreed to appear on very short notice; he was awarded the first — and only — Fall for the Book Prize, an award that evolved the following year into the Mason Award.