Nora Krug's 'Belonging' wins 2019 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize

May 02, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home,” by Nora Krug and published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, has won the 2019 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the year. Penn State University Libraries sponsors the juried annual award and its administrator, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.

Belonging: A German Recons with History and Home, cover art

“Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home” by Nora Krug, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, has won the 2019 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year. The visual memoir, according to Krug's website, "draws on letters, archival material, flea market finds, and photographs to attempt to understand what it means to belong. A wholly original record of a German woman’s struggle with the weight of catastrophic history, 'Belonging' is also a reflection on the responsibility that we all have as inheritors of our countries’ pasts."

IMAGE: Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Publishing Company

“Nora Krug’s ‘Belonging’ is an examination of culpability,” the 2019 Lynd Ward Prize jury said. “The graphic memoir follows Nora as she uncovers her family’s participation in World War II, and the impact the War continues to have on the generations that follow. Her language is poetic, and her assemblage of fading photographs, letters, and vibrant illustrations evoke a palimpsest of history and memory. Employing collage in tandem with her personal illustration style, she negotiates historical space with her own artistic vision. The result is rich storytelling that winnows a human connection out of loss and reckoning. This graphic memoir feels part diary, part archival record, and the outcome is both personal and educational — about German identity — and about the collective cultural aftermath of the Holocaust.”

The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize is presented annually to the best graphic novel, fiction or nonfiction, published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident. It honors Ward’s influence in the development of the graphic novel and celebrates the gift of an extensive collection of Ward’s wood engravings, original book illustrations and other graphic art donated to Penn State University Libraries by his daughters Robin Ward Savage and Nanda Weedon Ward. Between 1929 and 1937, Ward published six groundbreaking wordless novels: “God’s Man,” “Madman’s Drum,” “Wild Pilgrimage,” “Prelude to a Million Years,” “Song without Words” and “Vertigo.”

A $2,500 prize and a two-volume set of Ward’s six novels published by the Library of America will be presented to Krug at a ceremony this fall at Pattee and Paterno Library on Penn State’s University Park campus.

The jury also awarded one honor book: “On a Sunbeam,” by Tillie Walden and published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. About it, the jury said, “'On a Sunbeam,' a love epic traveling through space and time, comes alive through sublime art that sweeps the reader through a vibrant, lush world of Tillie Walden’s invention. It is a stunning exploration of space, identity and love that is aesthetically sophisticated and connects with feelings of intimacy and escapism.” 

The Lynd Ward Prize 2019 selection jury included representatives from various Penn State academic departments who use the graphic novel in their teaching or research, as well as student and alumni representatives with graphic novel expertise:

  • Steven Herb, director emeritus of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book and lead founder of Penn State’s Lynd Ward Prize in 2011, has served on a dozen national children’s literature award committees including the Caldecott Committees of1988 and 2012 (chair). Herb has worked with Penn State’s extensive collection of Lynd Ward materials, producing exhibits, lectures, book chapters, and articles.
  • Maria Burchill is head of Adult Services at Schlow Centre Region Library in State College, Pennsylvania. Graphic novels are her literature of choice when reading for leisure, and she reviews and selects them for the Library's digital branch. She is a coordinator for Book Fest PA, which showcases comic book creators, and has co-led the Pennsylvania Humanities' Council sponsored Teen Reading Lounge at Schlow, which focused on creating, reading, and discussing graphic novels.
  • Brian Alfred, assistant professor of art and Arts/Design Entrepreneurship Teaching Fellow at Penn State, is an award-winning artist, musician and curator with works in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. Alfred is the creator and host of the "Sound & Vision" podcast and teaches a summer program in Tokyo about art and aesthetics in Japan and manga and anime.
  • Alise Deveney is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in film, with minors in English and theater. Deveney has always enjoyed reading and analyzing graphic novels and maintains an extensive and diverse collection.
  • Robyn Engel is a practicing project architect at the firm IKM Inc. in Pittsburgh. Her love of graphic novels has formed a specific interest in analyzing the comic narrative as it relates to spatial and architectural depiction. Her undergraduate architectural thesis applied comics as alternative media to shift mass consciousness about the water crisis in Los Angeles.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book extended its gratitude to the co-sponsors of this award, including Barbara I Dewey, dean of Penn State University Libraries and Scholarly Communications; the Penn State University Libraries, Library Learning Services and the Eberly Family Special Collections Library; the Department of English in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State; and the College of the Liberal Arts.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, encourages Pennsylvania’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy. In addition to the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, it also administers the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry AwardPublic Poetry ProjectLetters about LiteratureA Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family LiteracyPoems from Life; and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania.

For more information about the selection criteria and how to submit books for consideration for the 2019 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, contact Ellysa Cahoy at or 814-865-9696, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s website.

  • Nora Krug, author photo

    Nora Krug is a German-American author and illustrator whose drawings and visual narratives have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde diplomatique and A Public Space. Acording to her website, her work has been exhibited internationally and her animations were shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Krug’s latest visual memoir “Belonging: A German... Read more ›

    IMAGE: Nina Subin
  •  On a Sunbeam, book cover art

    Chosen as an honor book by the 2019 Lynd Ward Prize jury, “On a Sunbeam” is published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. According to Brian K. Vaughan, on her publisher’s website, “Tillie Walden is the future of comics, and ‘On a Sunbeam’ is her best work yet. It’s a ‘space’ story unlike any you’ve ever read, with a... Read more ›

    IMAGE: First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group
  • Tillie Walden author photo

    Tillie Walden is a cartoonist and illustrator from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, during which time she published three books according to her publisher’s website. Her graphic novels with First Second include an autobiographical work “Spinning,” and “On a Sunbeam.” She is a two-time Eisner nominee and Ignatz Award winner who lives... Read more ›

    IMAGE: Annemarie Rogers
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Last Updated June 21, 2019