So much to read: Pen/Faulkner Nominees Announced

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Earlier this month, Mark Lawson writing in The Guardian, kind of made the argument that American fiction — if not quite dead — isn’t what it used to be.

While he points to books like Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as indications “a new phase is beginning,” he doesn’t seem all that optimistic, spending a lot of time pointing to warning signs — the deaths of Salinger and Updike, the fact that while Updike used to be on the cover of Time Magazine, that’s now an honor that belongs to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown — and writing:

“It’s clear than an era in American fiction is coming to a close.”

Yesterday, furthering the notion that there’s still a lot to be said on this side of the Atlantic, the five nominees for the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction were announced:

Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, her first novel in 15 years, which got some great reviews including this one;

Lorraine Lopez’s Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories, a collection of ten stories that “defies boundaries of skin color, ancestry and gender, elevating mundane events and predicaments to the scope of larger human dramas” according to the Nashville Scene;

Sherman Alexie’s War Dances, also a collection of stories, which appeared several places, including in The New Yorker;

Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, her first novel in almost a decade, which The Washington Post called “the most mature and ambitious one she’s written;”


Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor, which led to Esquire calling Whitehead “the coolest writer in America.”

The award will be announced on March 23rd with the winner, who will receive $15,000 (runners-up get $5000 each), being honored in a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC on May 8th.

So much to read, so little time.


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