The PEN/Faulkner Foundation has announced that George Saunders will receive the 2013 PEN/Malamud Award. Given annually for a “body of work that demonstrates excellence in the art of short fiction,” the award comes with a five-thousand-dollar purse.
Considered a master of the short story, George Saunders’s most recent collection, Tenth of December, was published in January by Random House. A professor of creative writing at Syracuse University, his previous works include the story collections and novellas CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1997), Pastoralia (2001), The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip (2005), The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (2005), and In Persuasion Nation (2007), and an essay collection, The Braindead Megaphone (2007). He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, GQ, and the New York Times Magazine. Saunders has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and four National Magazine Awards.
“Saunders is one of the most gifted and seriously comic short story writers working in America today,” said Alan Cheuse, a member of the Malamud Award selection committee, which is comprised of a panel of PEN/Faulkner directors. “And his comedy, like most great comedy, is dark….He's a Vonnegutian in his soul and, paradoxically, a writer like no one but himself.”
In addition to the prize money, PEN/Malamud Award winners are also invited to give a reading as part of the PEN/Faulkner Reading Series at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. This year’s reading will take place in December.
Established in 1988, the PEN/Malamud Award honors the late writer Bernard Malamud. Past winners have included, among others, John Updike, Saul Bellow, Eudora Welty, Grace Paley, Stuart Dybek, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munro, Junot Diaz, Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolff, Amy Hempel, Nam Le, Edith Pearlman, and James Salter.
Listen below as George Saunders discusses Tenth of December for the WNYC talk show Soundcheck.