Longtime Phoenix New Times contributor Robrt Pela has won the 2017 Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award for a story about caring for his mother, who has advanced Alzheimer's disease.
"In this emotional first-person narrative, Pela uses descriptive details, dark humor and extensive primary and secondary research to chronicle his experience and the broader national topic of aging in America," according to a release from Ball State University's Department of Journalism, which announced the award earlier this month.
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The judges called "Memory Lane: Living Where Everything is Forgotten" “a well-written and an enormously moving account that speaks for everyone who has become a longtime caretaker.”
Pela has written for New Times since 1991 — notably as the paper's theater critic — and is a longtime correspondent for KJZZ, the local National Public Radio affiliate. He is the author of Filthy: The Weird World of John Waters, and was the lead book critic for The Advocate for many years. He is currently working on a book about the decade he has spent as a caregiver for his mother.
He will travel to Indiana next month to accept his award and discuss the story and his career as part of the Ball State journalism department's "Professionals in Residence" program. The annual award was first given in 1960.