Wednesday, May 6, 2009

2009 PEN Literary Awards

PEN American Center has announced its 2009 Literary Award winners. The ceremony will be hosted by poet Billy Collins on May 19 in New York.
The PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction goes to a distinguished living American author of fiction whose body of work in English possesses qualities of excellence, ambition, and scale of achievement over a sustained career which place him or her in the highest rank of American literature. The award carries a stipend of $25,000. This year’s honoree is Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in 1933 and spent most of his childhood near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later studied at the University of Tennessee. In 1976 he moved to El Paso, Texas, and now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

McCarthy’s fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West—the first four novels being set in Tennessee, the last three in the Southwest and Mexico. The Orchard Keeper (1965) won the Faulkner Award for a first novel; it was followed by Outer Dark (1968), Child of God (1973), Suttree (1979), and Blood Meridian (1985). All the Pretty Horses, which won the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1992, is the first volume in McCarthy’s acclaimed Border Trilogy, and was followed by The Crossing (1994) and Cities of the Plain (1998).He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for The Road, and his 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted as a 2007 film of the same name, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. He is also the author of The Stone Mason: A Play in Five Acts. McCarthy is also the recipient of a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, among other grants.

The PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2008—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $35,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction. The fellowship was established in memory of Robert Bingham, who died in 1999 at the age of 33, to commemorate his support of young writers, his love of literature, and his contribution to literary fiction. This year’s award goes to Donald Ray Pollack for his collection Knockemstiff (Doubleday). The finalists are Rivka Galchen for Atmospheric Disturbances (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Aravind Adiga for The White Tiger (Free Press).

The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories are the product of a new partnership between Vintage and PEN American Center. Since 1919, twenty stories have been chosen each year and collected in the annual O. Henry Prize Stories, whose original and present mission is to strengthen the art of the short story. Now in partnership with PEN, the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories continues the tradition of recognizing excellence in the short story and encouraging writers and readers alike to celebrate the form. This year’s recipients are Graham Joyce, Kristen Sundberg Lunstrum, E. V. Slate, John Burnside, Mohan Sikka, L. E. Miller, Alistair Morgan, Roger Nash, Manuel Muñoz, Caitlin Horrocks, Ha Jin, Paul Theroux, Judy Troy, Nadine Gordimer, Viet Dinh, Karen Brown, Marisa Silver, Paul Yoon, Andrew Sean Greer, and Junot Díaz.

The PEN Translation Prize goes to book-length translations from any language into English published during the previous calendar year. The $3,000 prize has been conferred since 1963 in recognition of the art of the literary translator, and it is the first American award to do so. This year’s award goes to Natasha Wimmer for her translation from the Spanish of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The finalists for the award are Jordan Stump for his translation from the French of The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre (Archipelago Books) and Joel Rotenberg for his translation from the German of The Post- Office Girl by Stefan Zweig (NYRB Classics).

We've got all of these winning books. In fact, the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories collection is hot off the press! Check out the rest of the awards at the PEN Web site.

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