Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award
Taking a look back in a light-hearted debate
Are books that were popular a hundred years ago still relevant today? That’s the question we ask every year at the Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award, where three distinguished panelists make a strong case for their books. The audience chooses the winner. Learning from yesterday’s literature has never been this fun.

Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award of 1920

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 via a virtual presentation

For over two decades the Associates' rotating panelists have weighed the enduring literary merits of bestsellers published one hundred years ago. We are currently planning for this year's debate on November 4, 2020. Do you have a nomination for the Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award of 1920 book selections? We'd love to hear your suggestion! Email us at

Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award of 1919

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at 6:30 PM in the Abbey Room, Boston Public Library

Last year the contenders for the Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award of 1919 were Carl Sandburg’s The Chicago Race Riots, Frans Masereel's Passionate Journey, and Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. The books were championed by Kellie Carter Jackson, Andre Dubus, III, and Daniel Mazur, respectively. Radio host Christopher Lydon moderated the lighthearted debate, after which the audience voted on a winner.

Stona Fitch

Debate Moderator:

Christopher Lydon

Christopher Lydon is the host of WBUR’s Radio Open Source, a conversation on arts, ideas and politics. He recorded the original podcast in 2003 with Dave Winer. Previously, he covered city and state politics for the Boston Globe and presidential campaigns for the New York Times' Washington bureau, hosted The Ten O'Clock News at WGBH-TV in Boston, and co-founded The Connection on WBUR public radio.

Speaking for the Candidates:

Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III’s seven books include the New York Times’ bestsellers House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and his memoir, Townie. His most recent novel, Gone So Long, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal and has been named on many “Best Books” lists, including selection for The Boston Globe’s “Twenty Best Books of 2018” and “The Best Books of 2018,” “Top 100,” Amazon.

The Associates honored Mr. Dubus as a Literary Light in 2012. He has also been a finalist for the National Book Award, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Magazine Award for Fiction, two Pushcart Prizes, and is a recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His books are published in over twenty-five languages, and he teaches full-time at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Fontaine, and their three children.

Mr. Dubus will be defending Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.

Kellie Carter Jackson

Kellie Carter Jackson

is the Knafel Assistant Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College. She is the author of Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence which was a finalist for the MAAH Stone Prize Book Award. Ms. Carter Jackson is also co-editor of Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, & Memory. Together, Erica Ball and Ms. Carter Jackson have curated the largest collection of essays dedicated to understanding the history and impact of Alex Haley’s Roots.

Ms. Cater Jackson was also featured in the History Channel's documentary, Roots: A History Revealed which was nominated for a NAACP Image Award in 2016. She represents the Museum of African American History as a commissioner for the Massachusetts Historical Commission and serves on the board of Transition Magazine. Her essays have been featured in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Conversation, Black Perspectives, and Quartz.  She has also been interviewed for the New York Times, WBUR Boston Public Radio, PBS, Al Jazeera International, Slate, The Telegraph, Reader’s Digest, and Radio One. For the 2019-2020 academic year she will be a Newhouse Faculty Fellow in the Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College. She resides in Wellesley with her husband and three children.

Ms. Carter Jackson will be defending The Chicago Race Riots, by Carl Sandburg.

Dan Mazur

Dan Mazur

grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1983, he relocated to Los Angeles to work in the motion picture industry. After 23 years on the west coast, he moved back to Cambridge, where he turned his attention to the art of comics. Mazur’s work is published through the Ninth Art Press. He is the co-author, with Alexander Danner, of Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present, which explores the history of comics around the world from the late 1960s to the dawn of the 21st century. Comics is a richly illustrated narrative of extraordinary scope, with examples from all over the world from Crumb and Kirby to RAW; from Metal Hurlant to Marjane Satrapi to nouvelle manga; from both the American mainstream and underground to the evolving and influential British scene. Mr. Mazur is also the co-founder of The Boston Comics Roundtable, and co-director of the Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo.

Mr. Mazur will be defending Passionate Journey by Frans Masereel.


Previous Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Awards

The Associates of the Boston Public Library's Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award is now in its twenty-second year.

To read about the previous debates click below.