Philip Roth’s work Everyman (Houghton Mifflin) has been selected as the winner of the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Roth is the first writer to receive the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the first time in 1994 for Operation Shylock and again in 2001 for The Human Stain. The announcement was made today by the directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Patricia Griffith and Robert Stone, Co-Chairmen.
Four finalists were also named. They are Charles D’Ambrosio for The Dead Fish Museum (Knopf); Deborah Eisenberg for Twilight of the Superheroes (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux); Amy Hempel for The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel (Scribner); and Edward P. Jones for All Aunt Hagar’s Children (Amistad/HarperCollins).
The judges—John Dufresne, Debra Magpie Earling, and David Gates—considered close to 350 novels and short story collections by American authors published in the US during the 2006 calendar year. Submissions came from over 90 publishing houses, including small and academic presses. There is no fee for a publisher to submit a book.
Founded in 1980, the PEN/Faulkner Award is the largest peer-juried prize for fiction in the United States. As winner, Roth receives $15,000. Each of the four finalists receives $5,000. In a ceremony that celebrates the winner as “first among equals,” all five authors will be honored during the 27th annual PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony on Saturday, May 12th at 7 pm at Folger Shakespeare Library, located at 201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC. Tickets are $100, and include the award ceremony followed by dinner and dancing. They can be purchased by phoning the Folger Box Office at (202) 544-7077 or online at www.penfaulkner.org.
About the Winner
Praised as a brief masterpiece, admired for its precise physicality and lyrical brilliance, the honored novel, Everyman, takes as its subject an unnamed hero at the time of his death, being buried in a Jewish cemetery in New Jersey by his grown children, ex-wife, and a few friends. Its title drawn from the 15th century English morality play, Philip Roth’s novel describes the frailty, illness and deterioration of the hero’s body as he undergoes a series of medical procedures that frame his process of aging. The narrative which casts back across the ordinary life of this man: creative artist for an advertising agency, three-times married, father of two sons and a daughter, is filled with the enormous questions, longings, regrets, and desires, universal and elegantly detailed, that make up life.
"It's such a slim volume,” says PEN/Faulkner judge Debra Magpie Earling, “and the book haunts me, its simplicity and brutishness, the unflinching look at life. Roth never looks away, never trivializes, never shrugs. He manages to wrestle with grief, the immensity of losing self."
In addition to the PEN/Faulkner Award, Roth has twice won The National Book Award and twice the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1997 he was honored with the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. He has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, and, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Gold Medal in Fiction. Roth divides his time between New York and Connecticut. Everyman is his 27th novel.
About the Finalists
The Dead Fish Museum is the second collection of short stories by Charles D’Ambrosio. Called “dark and graceful, as deeply nuanced as novels” by the Miami Herald, these eight stories are set in various American landscapes and articulate the misadventures and aspirations of his beautifully-rendered characters. D’Ambrosio’s prose has been praised for its deft minimalism, his stories for their exuberant range and individuality. The majority of these stories originally appeared in The New Yorker Magazine. The Point, D’Ambrosio’s first collection, was a Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. D’Ambrosio is also the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and has published Orphans, a collection of essays. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Deborah Eisenberg is the author of five prior short fiction collections. She is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Rea Award for the Short Story, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. Twilight of the Superheroes features six surprising narratives of human interaction and miscommunication, told with the author’s characteristic intelligence, humor, and innovation. In the title story, a group of 20-something friends luck out when they are pointed to a great deal on a loft sublet. Yet the apartment is within view of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Eisenberg portrays the reactions of these hapless innocents with an unsparing compassion. Eisenberg is a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel brings together this author’s four celebrated volumes of short fiction, Reasons to Live (1986); At The Gates of the Animal Kingdom (1990); Tumble Home, a Novella and Stories (1997); and The Dog of the Mariage (2005). Masterfully honed minimalist short stories, Hempel’s compact narratives have long been admired for their ability to illuminate emotional truths within the lived moment. In his introduction to the collection, Rick Moody writes, “These Hempel sentences, with their longing and their profound disquiet, do not rage or posture the way men of the minimalist realist period did. They ache. And this ache seems to have everything to do with a rather profound and cruelly underestimated lineage of women writers in North America.” The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Hobson Award, Hempel lives in New York and teaches in the graduate writing programs of Bennington College.
Awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Known World, Edward P. Jones returns to his native city, Washington, DC, for the backdrop of his third book, All Aunt Hagar’s Children. This collection of 14 stunning stories, noted for their technical complexity, focuses on the African-American experience in DC. Yet while tales in the previous collection, Lost in the City, were set in the 1960’s and 70’s, the current volume spans the entire 20th century. Jones’ memorable characters are often faced with the complicated realities of dysfunctional families, war, and prison, narrated in prose that is luminous and technically complex. Lost in the City was the recipient of the PEN/Hemingway Award and a finalist for the National Book Award. A recent recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, Jones currently resides in Washington, DC.
About these five remarkable books, PEN/Faulkner Judge, David Gates, writes, “The books all have in common a formal elegance and rigorous control. And they show how brevity and compression can create a focused intensity that’s impossible—or at least unadvisable—to sustain in longer fiction. Less isn’t always more, but here less isn’t any less.”
The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is committed to building audiences for exceptional literature and bringing writers together with their readers. This mission is accomplished through a reading series at Folger Shakespeare Library by distinguished writers who have won the respect of readers and writers alike; the PEN/Faulkner Award, the largest peer-juried award for fiction in the United States; the PEN/Malamud Award, honoring excellence in the short story; and the Writers in Schools program, which brings nationally and internationally-acclaimed authors to public high school classrooms in Washington, DC, and in Kansas City.