Benjamin Hale, 2012 Recipient

Author Benjamin Hale has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2012. 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. Hale is receiving the prize for his debut novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore (Twelve, 2011). Hale will be writer in residence at Bard College for the spring 2012 semester, where he will continue his writing, meet informally with students, and give a public reading.

The Bard Fiction Prize committee writes: Benjamin Hale is a rare young writer, whose work is not only precocious but takes an evolutionary leap. Grounded in classical learning and the wisdom of literary predecessors, his debut novel swings valiantly through the trees with diction and vigor that are completely his own. The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore dares to speak in the voice of a chimpanzee: an articulate and morally engaged one, at that. This beast becomes the mouthpiece for literary humanism, and embodies as well the fierce problematic of the marginal—speaking up for life’s outsiders. Yet the heart that beats beneath Bruno’s savage breast is the novel’s most fiercely recognizable achievement. The central, scandalous love story stands in for all passions that dare not speak their name. No human could tell it so truthfully.

Benjamin Hale is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received a Provost’s Fellowship to complete his novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, which went on to win a Michener-Copernicus Award and was published by Twelve in January 2011. It has been called “a brilliant, unruly brute of a book” by the Washington Post, “an absolute pleasure” by the New York Times Book Review, and “a brave and visionary work of genius” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Hale has been a night-shift baker, a security guard, a trompe l’oeil painter, a cartoonist, an illustrator and a technical writer. He grew up in Colorado and now lives in New York City.