Book News: “The Old Priest” — A Finalist for the 2014 PEN/Hemingway Award

By Anthony Wallace

coverMy collection of short stories The Old Priest won the 2013 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was first reviewed by Roberta Silman in The Arts Fuse. The book went on to become a finalist for the 2014 PEN/Hemingway Award, and Roberta found out about that and emailed editor Bill Marx that readers should get an update. Thank you, Roberta, for a wonderful review as well as your ongoing enthusiasm for my book!

Last Sunday I went to the Kennedy Library to receive my award, which was a high-powered experience I won’t soon forget. Scott Turow, the senior judge, presented me with the framed citation, and then I posed for pictures with him and Patrick Hemingway. Here is the judges’ citation:

Anthony Wallace’s short fiction collection, The Old Priest, slices with the precision of a cardiac surgeon into a unique array of American hearts afflicted by despair. Most of these characters—casino workers, estranged spouses, drifters, meth-heads, even writers—have blundered into life’s cul-de-sacs still uncertain about whether they are lost and where else they’d like to go. The title novella is a remarkable jewel that expands not only traditional limits on narrative but our understanding of terms like “betrayal,” “abuse,” “faith,” and “love.”

Among the top six books the judges selected, mine was the only one from a university press, so already I’ve gained much greater visibility. The winner and my co-finalist have New York publishers, and their books have been reviewed in the New York Times. Noviolet Bulawayo was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, which is international. Mitchell S. Jackson has been interviewed in The Paris Review. This award puts me in their company, at least from the standpoint of visibility and recognition.It was a great honor to stand on the podium with them. And of course it was a big deal for me to receive an award with Papa’s name on it, and to spend a little time with his son Patrick.

Thank you, Arts Fuse, for bringing this news about my book to your readers!

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