By: G. Wayne Miller
Dan Barry, a New York Times senior writer and the author of four books, has been named the 2018 recipient of the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square. The prize, awarded annually since 2013, honors a storyteller whose work has significantly influenced the public dialogue.
Barry, a member of a Providence Journal team that won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting and twice a Pulitzer finalist while at The Times, will receive the Pell Center Prize in a ceremony April 23 at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy. The next day, he will tape an episode of “Story in the Public Square” for broadcast on SiriusXM Satellite radio and Rhode Island PBS.
“When it was made clear to me that this was not some clerical mistake, I was truly humbled to learn that I was being awarded the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square,” Barry said. “The telling of stories is an essential pursuit; stories help us to navigate the shoals of the human condition. And I am deeply honored to join the past recipients, and to be thought of as a storyteller.”
Barry joins two-time Pulitzer winner Dana Priest, who received the inaugural Pell Center Prize in 2013; Emmy-winning screenwriter and actor Danny Strong, the 2014 winner; Lisa Genova, the best-selling author of “Still Alice” and four other novels, honored in 2015; Pulitzer-winning photographer Javier Manzano, the winner in 2016; and last year’s winner, filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki, whose documentary “4.1 Miles” was nominated for an Oscar.
“Having known Dan since he arrived at The Providence Journal in 1987 and having followed his career since, I can state with authority that his distinguished body of work stands as an extraordinary example of the power of narrative storytelling — not just to shape thinking but also to change lives,” said G. Wayne Miller, a Journal staff writer and Story in the Public Square director.
“Dan Barry’s writing is so moving because it is ultimately about the people he encounters: adult men living with developmental disabilities; a boxer whose last fight has left him with a brain injury; a young girl who as an adult uncovered a horrible secret in her hometown,” said Pell Center executive director Jim Ludes. “Dan is an extraordinary storyteller who captures our minds and our hearts with the stories he tells. We’re thrilled to be able to celebrate his work.”
Barry’s most recent book, “The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland,” about men with intellectual disabilities who spent decades working at an Iowa turkey-processing plant while living in an old schoolhouse, was a searing story of exploitation and abuse – and eventual justice and freedom. It was recently named the All Iowa Reads selection for 2018.
His other books include “Pull Me Up,” “City Lights: Stories About New York,” and “Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game,” set in Pawtucket. A collection of Barry’s national columns for The Times, “This Land: Dispatches from Real America,” is scheduled to be published in September. To read some of Dan’s work at The New York Times, visit, www.nytimes.com/by/dan-barry.
The April 23 ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Space is limited and registration is required at, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-pell-center-prize-for-story-in-the-public-square-tickets-42718921444.
Founded six years ago this month, Story in the Public Square is an initiative to study, celebrate, and tell stories that matter. A partnership of the Pell Center and The Providence Journal, the program sponsors public events, names the top public narrative each year, and produces the public affairs talk show for SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. channel and Rhode Island PBS. Past episodes may be viewed at http://pellcenter.org/story-in-the-public-square/episodes/
Visit Story in the Public Square at pellcenter.org, like on Facebook and follow on Twitter @PubStory.