The Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism is awarded for literary criticism by the University of Iowa on behalf of the estate of Truman Capote. The value of the award is $30,000 (USD).
The $30,000 award—the largest annual cash prize in English-language literary criticism—is administered for the Truman Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
The Truman Capote Estate announced the establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust in 1994, during a breakfast at Tiffany's in New York City, on the 40th anniversary of the publication of Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. The establishment of the Trust was stipulated in the author's will and the annual award reflects Capote's frequently expressed concern for the health of literary criticism in the English language. The awards are designed to reward and encourage excellence in the field.
Newton Arvin, in whose memory the award was established, was one of the critics Capote admired. However, Arvin's academic career at Smith College was destroyed in the late 1940s when his homosexuality was exposed.
The award-winning book is chosen by an international panel of prominent critics and writers—each of whom nominates two books. Books of general literary criticism in English, published during the last four years, are eligible for nomination. After reading all the nominated books, each critic ranks the nominees.