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Writer Edie Meidav has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2006. The prize, established in 2001 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 the College for one semester. Meidav is receiving this year’s Bard Fiction Prize for her second novel Crawl Space, set in rural France in 1940s and late 1990s, and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2005). She will be writer in residence at Bard College for the spring 2006 semester, where she will continue her writing, hold weekly colloquia with students, and give a public reading.
The Bard Fiction Prize committee notes that in Crawl Space, “Edie Meidav writes with a confidence and maturity uncommon among young novelists. Her prose demonstrates visible warmth for humanity, in all its breadth and narrowness, even as she takes on the difficult task of bringing to life an repellent character: Emile Poulquet, a fugitive French collaborator who singlehandedly sent thousands of Jews to their deaths during the Nazi occupation.”
In one final attempt to evade justice, Poulquet has returned to his hometown to deliver his last will and testament to the woman who never returned his love. Temporarily adopted by a group of young squatters, Poulquet finds himself on the other side of discrimination, living both physically and metaphorically in a dark “crawl space,” where the living bury their dead and hide their memories.
Meidav takes on important issues in this novel—crimes against humanity, guilt and culpability, the nature of memory and forgetting and forgiveness—and she grapples with them gracefully and courageously, wrapping thorny complexities in surprising, evocative imagery, as when she reveals that the narrator’s hometown “had the beauty you might find in the tight crevices of a fist.”
Edie Meidav’s first novel, The Far Field (Houghton Mifflin), was called “ambitious and distinguished” by the Los Angeles Times and is an investigation of Buddhism, the effects of colonialism, and American blindness. Meidav began The Far Field while a Fulbright Fellowship recipient in Sri Lanka. The novel received the following awards and prizes: the 26th Annual Janet Kafka Heidinger Award for the Best Novel Written by an American Woman, the Los Angeles Times Best Books of 2001 citation, the Village Voice award for Writers on the Verge, and an Emerging Writer award from the Vermont Studio Center. Meidav’s work has appeared in the Village Voice, Conjunctions, The American Voice, Ms., New Letters, Artweek, and other publications. She is the recipient of writing fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Cummington Community for the Arts, Fundación Valparaíso in Spain, the Yeats Institute in Ireland, and the Eisendrath Fellowship program in Israel, and she has served on panels judging submissions to the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, and the Loft Mentor Series. Meidav received a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master in fine arts degree from Mills College. She lives in California, where she is director of the MA/MFA program in Writing and Consciousness at the New College of California (San Francisco).