Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize Winner

The Sherwood Anderson Foundation has announced that its Fiction Competition Award winner for 2009 is Lucy Jane Bledsoe. Bledsoe, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, read at Broadway Books when her last novel, Biting the Apple, was published. She writes both fiction and narrative nonfiction. The competition judges found her two entries "Girl with Boat" and "Enough" to be outstanding literary stories precisely because neither is "literary" or mannered but instead the author speaks with an honest human voice.

"Girl with Boat," winner of the 2009 Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction (to be published in that journal in Fall 2009), shows the conflict between loyal family love and the father's desperate, singular need to take them all to live in trackless Alaska. This is the story of the daughter's return, thirty years later, and of what she finds at the old homestead.

Bledsoe's second entry, "Enough," winner of the 2009 International Arts Movement First Prize for fiction, is set in Antarctica, "on the Ice," and depicts with unusual perception the conflicts, self-delusion, but nonetheless warm hopes humans take with them wherever they live.

Besides writing, the author goes sea kayaking in Alaska, backpacking in the Rockies, and skiing in the Sierra. She has been to Antarctica three times as a recipient of the National Science Foundation's Artists & Writers Fellowship, living and working at all three American stations--McMurdo Station, Palmer Station, and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. She also lived at field camps in the Transantarctic Mountains. Bledsoe's work with geologists, biologists, and astrophysicists concerned studying penguins, seals, climate change, and the Big Bang.

Publishers Weekly gave Bledsoe's novel, Biting the Apple, a starred review. Cited as one of Bookmark's 10 Best Books of the Year, Biting the Apple is "an intelligent, introspective, and smartly sarcastic story about the shackles of the past, the pressures of a present built on falsehoods, and the promise of reinvention and renewal. . . ."

Her newest novel, The Big Bang Symphony: A Novel of Antarctica, will be out in spring 2010. The premise is that a galley worker, a geologist, and a composer have run away to jobs in Antarctica, each trying to escape a life that has become unbearable. Kim Stanley Robinson writes: "Lucy Bledsoe has written a beautiful novel about living in that extreme space; vivid and suspenseful, it really captures the feel of the Ice and the intensity of living and learning there."

Congratulations, Lucy, on the Sherwood Anderson Award honors! We look forward to having you read again at Broadway Books when your next novel comes out.

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