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Novelist Samantha Hunt has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2010. 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. Hunt is receiving this year's Bard Fiction Prize for her second novel, The Invention of Everything Else (Houghton Mifflin 2008). She will be writer in residence at Bard College for the spring 2010 semester, where she will continue her writing, meet informally with students, and give a public reading.
The Bard Fiction Prize committee writes: "Nikola Tesla was a pioneer of alternating current electricity, which led to creations that helped generate and drive the world as we know it. Through an imaginative act of narrative wizardry, 2010 Bard Fiction Prize winner Samantha Hunt has, in her wise, enchanting novel The Invention of Everything Else, reinvented Nikola Tesla. Evoking a mesmerizing interplay between the aged, dying Tesla and a young chambermaid named Louisa who works at the Hotel New Yorker, where the inventor lived so many years, Hunt vividly rediscovers the essential values of truisms too easily forgotten. The necessary but difficult dialogue between past and present, the beloved and the unreachable, the grounded and winged, the real and unreal, the dead and living, the impossible and possible—all these are conjured with great delicacy and intelligence in this sophisticated, richly metaphoric novel. Samantha Hunt is audacious in her use of divergent genres—historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, urban realism—just as she is utterly convincing in her invention of one of the world's great inventors. When Hunt's Tesla concludes, 'There is only one world. This one. The dream is real. The ordinary is wonderful. The wonderful is ordinary,' we are compelled to believe."
Samantha Hunt is the author of the acclaimed first novel The Seas (MacAdam/Cage 2004), which won the first-ever "5 under 35" Award from the National Book Foundation. Her fiction has been featured in the New Yorker, McSweeneys, A Public Space, Tin House, Esquire, Cabinet, and Village Voice, and on This American Life. Time Out New York called her "a writer to watch," and Dave Eggers described her as having "one of the most distinctive and unforgettable voices I have read in years." The Invention of Everything Else was short-listed for the 2009 Orange Prize, 2009 Believer Book Award, and named Best Book of 2008 by the Washington Post. The Village Voice called "Hunt's fascination with language . . . unmistakable, resulting in beautiful, intimate observations . . . elegant, inspired." The Chicago Tribune called the novel "Glorious . . . pages of prose: daring and delicious, perfectly calibrated, fresh but not raw, original but neither off-putting nor disconcertingly strange." Hunt received her MFA from Warren Wilson College and teaches at Pratt Institute. Visit her on the web at www.samanthahunt.net.