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2003 PEN/Faulkner Award

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PW Daily newsletter announces The Caprices by Sabina Murray (Mariner) as the winner of the 2003 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

From the nomination site:

    Judges have selected five books published in 2002 as finalists for the 2003 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, America’s largest peer-juried prize for fiction. The nominees are Peter Cameron for The City of Your Final Destination (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); William Kennedy for Roscoe (Viking); Victor LaValle for The Ecstatic (Crown Publishers, Random House); Sabina Murray for The Caprices (Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Company); and Gilbert Sorrentino for Little Casino (Coffee House Press). The announcement was made Wednesday, March 12, 2003 by the directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Robert Stone, Chairman.

    The judges-Gail Godwin, Valerie Martin, and Alexs Pate-considered approximately 357 novels and short story collections published in the U.S. during the 2002 calendar year from over 90 publishing houses, including small and academic presses.

    The winner, who will receive $15,000, will be announced in April; the four finalists will receive $5000 each. All five authors will be honored during the 23rd Annual PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library, located at 201 East Capitol Street, S.E., on Saturday, May 17, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $100, and can be purchased by phoning the Folger Box Office at (202) 544-7077.

    In Peter Cameron’s The City of Your Final Destination, a naive young grad student travels to a crumbling mansion in Uruguay seeking authorization to write the biography of a suicidal novelist. With echoes of Henry James and Oscar Wilde, the novel is about people in perpetual emotional transit, the random nature of love, and the ways in which we confront or avoid life’s choices. The author of three other novels, including Andorra and The Weekend, and three story collections, Cameron teaches in the graduate writing program at Sarah Lawrence and lives in New York City.

    William Kennedy’s Roscoe is the seventh novel in his Albany cycle, following the hero, a charismatic lawyer-politician and Democratic party machine head who tries to retire from the fray in 1945 at the end of World War II, but who is forced to stay and confront his past by a series of deaths, scandals and threats to his family. The novel takes the reader on an intricate, whirlwind tour of the author’s native Albany in the first half of the twentieth century. Kennedy’s Albany novels include Ironweed, a PEN/Faulkner finalist in 1984 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Legs, Quinn’s Book and The Flaming Corsage. He has also published two books of nonfiction, O Albany! and Riding the Yellow Trolley Car.

    The Ecstatic by Victor LaValle, is a picaresque tale featuring a 318-pound hero who wrestles with his family demons of mental illness as his mother, sister and grandmother each try to make him sane, only to have their house in Queens turned into an asylum as the family moves surreally through a world of grinning exploitation and fake cures. Author of the story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, LaValle lives in New York and teaches writing at Columbia University.

    The Caprices is a collection of stories set against the backdrop of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Sabina Murray recalls her family stories of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and writes a history told through individual lives in stories that follow the reach of the United States into the heart of Asia and the pieces of war brought back through memory. Murray, who has worked as a screenwriter for Wayne Wang and others, is the author of the novel Slow Burn, and is currently the writer in residence at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts.

    Gilbert Sorrentino was a finalist for the first PEN/Faulkner award in 1981, for Aberration of Starlight. Little Casino is a novel that zooms across time and geography on a journey on names, memories, and tangents, as its disparate narratives emerge from the minds of characters in postwar Brooklyn, Sorrentino is the author of nine books of poetry and 17 other novels. He has recently returned to live in his native Brooklyn, after 20 years teaching in the Creative Writing Department at Stanford.

    The PEN/Faulkner Award was first given in 1981. Past winners are Walter Abish, David Bradley, Toby Olson, Tobias Wolff, Peter Taylor, Richard Wiley, T. Coraghessan Boyle, James Salter, E.L. Doctorow, John Edgar Wideman (1984 and 1991), Don DeLillo, E. Annie Proulx, David Guterson, Richard Ford, Gina Berriault, Rafi Zabor, Michael Cunningham, Ha Jin, Philip Roth (1994 and 2001), and Ann Patchett.

    The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is committed to building audiences for quality literature and bringing writers together with their readers. This mission is accomplished through readings at the Folger by distinguished writers who have won the respect of readers and writers alike; the PEN/Faulkner Award, the largest 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 and other cities, to discuss their work with the students.

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