<P>George Saunders to receive 2013 PEN/Malamud Award for </P> <P>Excellence in the Short Story</P>-Folger Shakespeare Library
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George Saunders to receive 2013 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story

Press Contacts:
Peter Eramo, Jr.
(202) 675-0344

George Saunders has been selected to receive the 2013 PEN/Malamud Award. Given annually since 1988 in honor of the late Bernard Malamud, this award recognizes a body of work that demonstrates excellence in the art of short fiction. The announcement was made today by the directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Robert Stone and Susan Richards Shreve, Co-Chairs.

George Saunders is an acclaimed essayist and author of novellas, but he is best known for his energetic, inventive, and deeply humane short stories. In the words of Alan Cheuse, a member of the Malamud Award Committee, “Saunders is one of the most gifted and successful comic short story writers working in America today. And his comedy, like most great comedy, is dark. George Saunders is the real thing, the successor to such dark comedians of ordinary speech as Donald Barthelme and Grace Paley. He's a Vonnegutian in his soul and, paradoxically, a writer like no one but himself.” This singular writing voice is equal parts hilarious and compassionate, merging colloquial language with technocratic jargon, surreal futuristic landscapes with everyday homes and yards, foreboding undercurrents with sparks of enormous optimism.

The first of Saunders’s four published story collections, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, arrived in 1996 and moved Thomas Pynchon to describe Saunders as, “An astoundingly tuned voice—graceful, dark, authentic, and funny—telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times.”

His most recent collection, Tenth of December, was published to near universal acclaim in January of 2013 and inspired a New York Times Magazine cover story titled, “George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year.” Charles Yu, reviewing it in the LA Review of Books, asserted that, “George Saunders … takes words and feelings and presses them together until they reach some kind of thermodynamic phase change, a critical point in the empathy of the system, near which the distinction between self and other starts to melt, giving rise to a completely new kind of thing.”

The author of four collections of short fiction, a volume of essays, a novella, and a novella with illustrations, Saunders is a professor of creative writing at Syracuse University. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2006, has won four National Magazine Awards for fiction, and makes his home in central New York.

The PEN/Malamud Award includes a reading in the 2013/14 PEN/Faulkner Reading Series at the Folger Shakespeare Library and a prize of $5,000. The selection committee is composed of a panel of PEN/Faulkner Board members.

Previous PEN/Malamud Award winners include: John Updike, Saul Bellow, George Garrett, Frederick Busch and Andre Dubus, Eudora Welty, Peter Taylor, Grace Paley, Stuart Dybek and William Maxwell, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munro, John Barth, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Ann Beattie and Nathan Englander, Sherman Alexie and Richard Ford, Junot Diaz and Ursula K. Le Guin, Barry Hannah and Maile Meloy, Richard Bausch and Nell Freudenberger, Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolff and Adam Haslett, and Elizabeth Spencer, Cynthia Ozick and Peter Ho Davies, Amy Hempel and Alistair MacLeod, Nam Le and Edward P. Jones, Edith Pearlman, and James Salter.

During his 37-year writing career, Bernard Malamud received the National Book Award twice as well as the Pulitzer Prize, a PEN/Faulkner Award nomination, and the Gold Medal for lifetime achievement from the National Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His published works include: The Natural, The Magic Barrel, The Fixer and The Stories of Bernard Malamud.

Talking about the art of the short story, Malamud said, “I like packing a self or two into a few pages,predicting lifetimes. The drama is terse, happens faster, and is often outlandish. A short story is a way of indicating the complexity of life in a few pages, producing the surprise and effect of a profound knowledge in a short time.”

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation, now celebrating its 33rd year, is committed to building audiences for 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 for Fiction, 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 to discuss their work with students.

Press release issued on April 3, 2013.
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