Boston: The Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, America’s best known prize for a distinguished first book of fiction, has been won by Justin Cronin, for his warm and powerful collection of stories, Mary and O’Neil, published by The Dial Press, a division of Random House, Inc. "Justin Cronin writes about love – between parents and children, between siblings, and yes, between lovers – with a wisdom and humor that’s rare," writes Chris Bohjalian. "Beautiful prose that aches with its sense of passing time," says Frederick Busch.
In winning the award, Cronin joins an esteemed list of firsts, including Akhil Sharma for his remarkable and bold novel, An Obedient Father, Jhumpa Lahiri for her short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, Marilynne Robinson for Housekeeping, Susan Power for The Grass Dancer, Louis Begley for Wartime Lies, and Chang-rae Lee for Native Speaker. The $7,500 annual award was founded in 1976 by late PEN member Mary Hemingway to honor the memory of Ernest Hemingway and to draw attention to first books of fiction. The award is funded by the Hemingway Foundation/Society headed by Scott Donaldson. Mary Hemingway also deposited Ernest Hemingway’s papers in the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. The judges for the award were Andrea Barrett, Charles Baxter, and Bret Lott. The award will be presented by Patrick Hemingway, the son of Ernest Hemingway.
The L.L. Winship/PEN Award, honoring a book by a New England author or about New England, has been won by Elizabeth McCracken for Niagara Falls All Over Again, published by The Dial Press, a division of Random House, Inc. "This relentlessly eventful, rollickingly funny and heartwarming narrative…explores a symbiotic relationship in vigorous, expressive prose," Publishers Weekly wrote. "McCracken is as original a writer as they come," wrote Daphne Merkin in The New Yorker. The judges of the $3000 award were authors and PEN New England members Diana der Hovanessian, Pagan Kennedy, Mameve Medwed, David Mehegan, and Susan Quinn. Built upon the L. L.Winship Award sponsored by The Boston Globe to honor longtime Globe editor Laurence L. Winship. The L.L. Winship Award is now a joint endeavor of PEN New England and the Globe. The award will be presented by Joanna Winship Crawford, L.L. Winship’s daughter.
Justin Cronin is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and associate professor of English at La Salle University. His fiction has appeared in many literary journals, including Epoch, Greensboro Review, and Crescent Review, and in the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine. He lives with his wife and young daughter in Philadelphia.
Elizabeth McCracken is the recipient of the Harold Vursell Award from the American Academy of the Arts and Letters and has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Michner Foundation, the Fine Works Center in Provincetown, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She was also honored as one of Granta’s 20 Best American Writers Under 40. In addition to Giant’s House, a Barnes and Noble Discover Award winner, she is the author of Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry.
The Finalists for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award are Peter Orner for Esther Stories, a delicate and beautiful collection of stories published by Mariner Books, a division of the Houghton Mifflin Company, and Manil Suri for The Death of Vishnu, a haunting and intimate portrait of life and death, published by W.W. Norton & Company. Of Esther Stories, Marilynne Robinson wrote, "A spirit of passionate tenderness broods over these stories…as if love, transcending itself, has become a wisdom so perfect it must cherish everything." Michael Cunningham says of The Death of Visnu, "Vibrantly alive, beautifully written, full of wonderfully rich and deeply human characters…"
Along with these two finalists and the winner, two runners-up receive Ucross Residency Fellowships at the Ucross Foundation, a retreat for artists and writers located on a 22,000-acre ranch on the high plains in Ucross, Wyoming. The runners-up are Carolyn Cooke for The Bostons (Houghton Mifflin Company) and Micheline Aharonian Marcom for Three Apples Fell From Heaven (Riverhead Books).
The Finalists for the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award include: Carolyn Cooke for The Bostons (Houghton Mifflin Company); Denis Lehane for Mystic River (William Morrow); Margot Livesey for Eva Moves the Furniture (Henry Holt and Company); and David McCullough for John Adams (Simon and Schuster).
Presentation of the awards is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, PEN New England, the Friends of the Hemingway Collection, The Boston Globe, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/Society, and the Ucross Foundation.
PEN New England is one of the regional branches of the PEN American Center, which is in turn part of International PEN, the only worldwide organization of writers. PEN New England provides a focal point for the New England literary community, sponsors free, public literary events, and helps advance the goals and programs of PEN.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis described Mary Hemingway’s gift of Ernest Hemingway’s papers to the Kennedy Library as helping "to fulfill our hopes that the Library will become a center for the study of American civilization, in all its aspects, in these years." Mrs. Onassis also brought the presentation of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award to the Library from New York. The Hemingway Foundation/Society, PEN New England, The Boston Globe, and the Library work together to ensure that the judging and presentation remain in New England.
The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is a Presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and is supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history and culture, and the process of governing and the importance of public service.
For further information about the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award or the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award, contact PEN New England at 617-499-9550. For further information on the Award Ceremony, contact Megan Desnoyers (617-929-4540 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or James Roth (617-514-1633 or email@example.com).