Saturday, July 25, 2015

Jack Livings wins the PEN/Bingham prize for debut fiction with ‘The Dog’

Jack Livings has won the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction for his book, The Dog. The Prize “honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work – a novel or collection of short stories – represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.”

In their citation, the judges said:

The stories in Jack Livings’ collection The Dog take place in contemporary China, but they are the opposite of exotic. Livings’ precise, measured sentences draw on an intensity of knowledge which makes a glass factory in Beijing as familiar as any American office, a feat which speaks of long experience and careful research, but also, and more importantly, of a deep curiosity about the vagaries and vanities of human nature, the brutish demands of collective endeavor and the austerity of freedom, and the strange occasions for compassion in societies where corruption and betrayal are the norm. The Dog reminds the reader that fiction need not be autobiographical in order to be honest; it is an investigation, an act of empathy and imagination which brings the world to life.

The PEN America Center was founded in 1922 by John Galsworthy and Catherine Amy Dawson Scott. Based in New York City and with a membership of 3300 writers, editors and translators, it “works to advance literature, defend free expression to foster international literary fellowship.” Each year it awards the PEN Literary Awards. Among this year’s other winners are:

The PEN/ E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award of $10,000 for “a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences,” to Joshua Horwitz for War of the Whales: a True Story.

The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction of $10,000 to “the author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues,” to Sheri Fink for Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital.

The PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography of $5,000 “for a distinguished biography” to Anna Whitelock for The Queen’s Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court.

The PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing
of $5,000 “to honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports” to John Branch for Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard.

The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation of $3,000 “for a book-length translation of poetry into English” to Eliza Griswold for her translation from the Pashto of I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan.

The PEN Translation Prize of $3,000 “for a book-length translation of prose into English” to Denise Newman for her translation from the Danish of Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt.

The PEN/Joyce Osterwell Award for Poetry of $5,000 “for an emerging American poet showing promise of further literary achievement” to Saeed Jones for Prelude to Bruise.

The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship of $5,000 “for an author of children’s or young-adult fiction to complete a book-length work in progress” to Stephanie Kuehn for The Pragmatist.

The PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards of $7500 and 2500 to “Master American Dramatist” Tina Howe, “Playwright in Mid-Career” Anne Washburn, and “Emerging Playwright” Jennifer Blackmer.

Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Bob Ryan (Literary Sports Writing); Rob Spillman for Tin House (Editing); and Burton Watson (Translation).

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