Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Awarded to E.L. Doctorow
Winner to Participate in This Year’s National Book Festival
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has announced that E. L. Doctorow, author of such critically acclaimed novels as “Ragtime,” “World’s Fair,” “Billy Bathgate,” “The March” and his current novel, “Andrew’s Brain,” will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during the 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Aug. 30.
“E. L. Doctorow is our very own Charles Dickens, summoning a distinctly American place and time, channeling our myriad voices,” said Billington. “Each book is a vivid canvas, filled with color and drama. In each, he chronicles an entirely different world.”
The Prize for American Fiction ceremony will be held on Saturday, Aug. 30, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., the National Book Festival’s new location.
“I was a child who read everything I could get my hands on,” Doctorow said. Eventually, I asked of a story not only what was to happen next, but how is this done? How am I made to live from words on a page? And so I became a writer myself.
“But is there a novelist who doesn’t live with self-doubt? The high honor of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction confers a blessed moment of peace and resolution.”
Doctorow is the second winner of the award. Last year, the prize went to Don DeLillo.
The annual Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction is meant to honor an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that—throughout long, consistently accomplished careers—have told us something about the American experience.
Billington chose Doctorow based on the recommendation of a panel of distinguished authors and prominent literary critics.
Doctorow’s career spans more than 50 years. He has written a dozen novels, starting with “Welcome to Hard Times” (1960). He has received the National Book Award for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award. In addition to awards for his individual works, his body of work has been honored with the National Humanities Medal (1998), the New York Writers Hall of Fame (2012), the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction (2012) and the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters of the National Book Foundation (2013).
Born in the Bronx in 1931, Edgar Lawrence Doctorow became interested in literary writing during high school. He majored in philosophy and participated in theatrical productions during his years at Kenyon College in Ohio.
After serving in the Army in Germany in 1954 and 1955, he returned to the United States and worked as a reader for the movie industry and later as an editor for the paperback publishing house New American Library, where authors he edited included Ian Fleming and Ayn Rand. Later he served as editor-in-chief at The Dial Press, publishing works by authors including Norman Mailer and James Baldwin. In 1969, he left his publishing job to focus on writing.
The Prize for American Fiction follows in the path of the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for fiction: John Grisham (2009), Isabel Allende (2010), Toni Morrison (2011) and Philip Roth (2012). In 2008, the Library presented Pulitzer-Prize winner Herman Wouk with a lifetime achievement award in the writing of fiction. This honor inspired the Library to grant subsequent fiction-writing awards.
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.
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