March 23, 2010

Alexie wins Pen/Faulkner award

Sherman Alexie wins Pen/Faulkner award for fiction

Seattle author Sherman Alexie has won the Pen/Faulkner award for fiction for his book of short stories, essays and poems, "War Dances."

By Mary Ann Gwinn
Seattle author Sherman Alexie has added another award to his groaning shelf of literary trophies—the 2010 Pen/Faulkner award for fiction for his book of short stories, essays and poems, "War Dances" (Grove Press).

The prestigious Pen-Faulkner Award is the largest peer-juried prize for fiction in the United States. The announcement, made this morning from Washington D.C.'s, Folger Library called "War Dances" "a collection of structurally inventive pieces on the themes of love, betrayal, familial relationships, race, and class. The stories are interspersed with poems which refract their themes or topics. About this collection judge Al Young says, "'War Dances' taps every vein and nerve, every tissue, every issue that quickens the current blood-pulse: parenthood, divorce, broken links, sex, gender and racial conflict, substance abuse, medical neglect, 9/11, Official Narrative vs. What Really Happened, settler religion vs. native spirituality; marketing, shopping, and war, war, war. All the heartbreaking ways we don't live now—this is the caring, eye-opening beauty of this rollicking, bittersweet gem of a book."

Alexie is the first Native American author to win the prize, a Pen/Faulkner spokesperson said this morning.
Comment:  Curiously, most reviews of War Dances have been mixed. I haven't seen anyone say it's Alexie's best work.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books.

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