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The first annual Bard Fiction Prize has been awarded to writer Nathan Englander. The prize, established this year by Bard College to encourage and support promising young fiction writers, consists of a $30,000 cash award and appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester. Englander will be writer-in-residence at Bard College for the spring 2002 semester.
"Bard is honored to initiate this new prize for younger American writers," said Bard College President Leon Botstein. "The award exemplifies Bard’s long tradition of teaching literature and writing and its dedication to encouraging and supporting our best young writers. The judges for the Bard Fiction Prize were highly impressed by the depth and range of Mr. Englander’s stories, and the originality and the humanity expressed in his work. We are gratified to have found such an outstanding recipient for the first annual Bard Fiction Prize, and wish to thank the donor and the BFP committee for making the dream of this prize a reality," he said.
Englander was born in New York in 1970. He now divides his time between Jerusalem and New York. Short fiction by Englander has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, American Short Fiction, Story Magazine, and the anthologies The Art of the Story and Neurotica. His collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, was published by Knopf. Englander is currently working on his first novel, also to be published by Knopf. He studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, received a B.A. degree from Binghamton University, and an M.F.A. degree from the University of Iowa.
In a statement announcing the award, the judges noted that "in each of the nine stories that make up his beautiful first book, Nathan Englander looks at the human condition through the lens of Jewish tradition with utter and compassionate clarity. His gift for mining the extraordinary from the ordinary imbues his words with the quality of revelation. Englander is first and last a brilliant storyteller. He makes accessible an esoteric world, and the means by which he accomplishes this, in story after story, are consistently arresting and appealing. He offers us simplicity, intimacy, and immense sympathy; seldom is edification this pleasurable."