Science + Literature

The Science + Literature program identifies three books annually, steered by a committee of scientific and literary experts, to deepen readers’ understanding of science and technology with a focus on work that highlights the diversity of voices in scientific writing. The selected titles act as a catalyst to create discourse, understanding, and engagement with science for communities across the country. Authors receive a $10,000 prize, are celebrated at a ceremony in March, and feature in national public programming.

Selections are made at the discretion of the Committee; publishers cannot submit a book for consideration. Eligible books can be in any genre, and have been published in the United States within the last three years.

Science + Literature is made possible by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Book cover for Dyke (geology), by Sabrina ImblerReal Life by Brandon TaylorBlockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside by Xiaowei Wang


Book cover for Real Life by Brandon Taylor
ISBN: 9781911547747
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

Real Life

by Brandon Taylor


“Real Life presents important questions of navigating society and a world of whiteness in the pursuit of a career in science, while also managing the heavy expectations of color, individual expression, community, and family. This novel should hit close to home for any BIPOC academic in science (or not) who struggles in a tower that is often too ivory—and more times than not, unprepared to deal with difference. Taylor’s work is personally riveting and atmospheric. The dialogue never tires. The scenes are dynamic and well-paced. It is timely and highly recommended reading for all.”

Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community. Real Life is a novel of profound and lacerating power, a story that asks if it’s ever really possible to overcome our private wounds, and at what cost.

author photo of Brandon Taylor
Brandon Taylor. (Photo credit: Haolun Xu)


Brandon Taylor is the author of Real Life, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and of the national bestseller Filthy Animals, which won The Story Prize and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in fiction.



Book cover for Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside by Xiaowei Wang
ISBN: 9780374538668
FSG Originals / Macmillan Publishers


Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China’s Countryside

by Xiaowei R. Wang


“Amidst the growing demand to better understand the social implications of digital technology, Blockchain Chicken Farm stands out as a culturally sensitive and original contribution. Xiaowei Wang offers a rare and enlightened window into the globalization of rural China and deftly explores how the applied science of modern machinery, of artificial intelligence, is deeply intertwined with people, places, and politics. Each essay in this plucky collection asks urgent questions about our humanity and communal future, shaped now by the rapid rise of tech in seemingly unlikely places.”

In Blockchain Chicken Farm, the technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social entanglements of technology in rural China. Their discoveries force them to challenge the standard idea that rural culture and people are backward, conservative, and intolerant. Instead, they find that rural China has not only adapted to rapid globalization but has actually innovated the technology we all use today.

Xiaowei R. Wang. (Photo credit: Ian Pearce)


Xiaowei R. Wang is a technologist, a filmmaker, an artist, and a writer. The creative director at Logic magazine, their work encompasses community-based and public art projects, data visualization, technology, ecology, and education. Their projects have been finalists for the INDEX Design Awards and featured by the New York Times, the BBC, CNN, VICE, and elsewhere. They are working toward a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, where they are a part of the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship, “Environment and Society: Data Science for the 21st Century.”



Ben Green, 2023 Science + Literature Committee member
Ben Green. (Photo credit: Salome Viljoen)
J. Drew Lanham, 2023 Science + Literature Committee member. (No photo credit provided.)
J. Drew Lanham
Latif Nasser, 2023 Science + Literature Committee member. (No photo credit provided.)
Latif Nasser
Aimee Nezhukumatathil (No photo credit provided)
Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Chair)
author photo of Weike Wang
Weike Wang



The Radiant Lives of Animals by Linda HoganIn the Field, by Rachel Pastan


ISBN: 9780807047927
Beacon Press

The Radiant Lives of Animals

by Linda Hogan


Linda Hogan’s collection The Radiant Lives of Animals is a brilliant evocation of the infinite ways in which the subjects of nature shape human perception and being. In both verse and prose, Hogan draws on Native ways of seeing the biological, the botanical, the geological, and the cosmological that have long been sidelined or suppressed, offering readers a heartrending glimpse of the beauty of the wild world and the trauma of its destruction.”


Concerned that human lives and the natural world are too often defined by people who are separated from the land and its inhabitants, Indigenous writer and environmentalist Linda Hogan depicts her own intense relationships with animals as an example we all can follow to heal our souls and reconnect with the spirit of the world. In this illuminating collection of essays and poems, lightly sprinkled with elegant drawings, Hogan draws on many Native nations’ ancient stories and spiritual traditions to show us that the soul exists in those delicate places where the natural world extends into human consciousness—in the midst of morning, the grass that grew a little through the night, the first warmth of this morning’s sunlight. Altogether, this beautifully packaged gift is a reverential reminder for us all to witness and appreciate the radiant lives of animals. —in the mist of morning, the grass that grew a little through the night, the first warmth of this morning’s sunlight. Altogether, this beautifully packaged gift is a reverential reminder for all of us to witness and appreciate the radiant lives of animals.

Linda Hogan


Linda Hogan (Chickasaw) is a poet, novelist, essayist, teacher, and activist. Her work illuminates environmental and Indigenous activism, as well as Native spirituality. She was born in Oklahoma and now lives and works in Idledale, Colorado, a town of 252 human souls. Her literary works have earned her fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Native Arts and Culture Foundation, and awards including the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas’ Lifetime Achievement Award and the Henry David Thoreau Prize.



In the Field, by Rachel Pastan

In the Field

by Rachel Pastan


In vivid, well-crafted prose, Rachel Pastan’s novel In the Field brings us into the professional and private life of a dedicated female geneticist, born in the 1920s, whose challenges and sacrifices illustrate how science, far from being impersonal, is practiced by people—how the pursuit of knowledge is shaped by the social norms and preconceptions that limit our behavior as individuals, and delay the acceptance of new ideas by the scientific community.”


In 1923, having persuaded her resistant mother to send her to college, Kate Croft falls in love with science. Painfully rebuffed by a girl she longs for, and in flight from her own confusing sexuality, Kate finds refuge in the calm rationality of biology: its vision of a deeply interconnected world, and the promise that the new field of genetics can explain the way people are.

But science, too, turns out to be marred by human weakness. Despite her hard work and extraordinary gifts, Kate struggles, facing discrimination, competition, and scientific theft. At the same time, a love affair is threatened by Kate’s obsession with figuring out the meaning of the puzzling changes she sees in her experiments. The novel explores what it takes to triumph in the ruthless world of mid-20th-century genetics, following Kate as she decides what she is—and is not—willing to sacrifice to succeed.

Rachel Pastan author photo
Rachel Pastan. (Photo credit: Andy Shelter)


Rachel Pastan is the author of four novels, most recently In the Field. Her previous novel, Alena, was named an Editors’ Choice in the New York Times Book Review. The daughter of a molecular geneticist and a poet, she has worked as editor-at-large at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and taught fiction writing at the Bennington Writing Seminars, Swarthmore College, and elsewhere.



Dr. Morgan Halene
Lydia Millet (Chair)
Dr. Safiya U. Noble
Margot Lee Shetterly
Aaron Yazzie


22mar6:30 pmCelebrating Science + Literature6:30 pm EDT New York, NY

12apr7:00 pmScience + Literature: The Future of Technology7:00 pm MDT Boise, ID

22apr4:30 pmScience + Literature: On Writing Science and Self4:30 pm PDT Los Angeles, CA

06may1:00 pmScience + Literature: From the Lab to the Page1:00 pm CDT Chicago, IL

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