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“Michelle Obama: A Life” by Northwestern University journalism professor Peter Slevin has been named to the shortlist of the prestigious 2016 PEN Literary Awards, which honors the best in new literature.

The book is one of five biographies in contention for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award and its $5,000 prize. The finalists will be judged on their literary, narrative and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research.

A former Washington Post correspondent and faculty member at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Prof. Slevin chronicled Ms. Obama’s
trajectory from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side to Princeton, Harvard, and ultimately, the White House.

Probing deep into her family history – dating back to slavery – Prof. Slevin explored the myriad forces that shaped, challenged and inspired her along the way.

Michelle Obama “comes across in this thoughtful biography as constantly searching and frequently torn between different worlds – not just black and white but also working-class and elite,” said the New York Times Sunday Book Review.  

 “Whether I was trying to solve a riddle of the reporting, the think-ing or the writing, it was very energizing to work on,” Prof. Slevin said. He wrote in the acknowledgements, “Truth be told, there was never a day when I did not look forward to working on this project.”