Brian Conn, 2013 Recipient

Author Brian Conn has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2013. 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. Conn is receiving the prize for his debut novel, The Fixed Stars (Fiction Collective 2, 2010). Centered on the “John’s Day” celebration of a small community, Conn’s experimental science fiction novel is set in a world that has retreated from urbanism into the pastoral, where citizens afflicted by a mysterious plague are routinely quarantined and reintegrated into society in rituals marked by a haunting brutality. Conn will be writer in residence at Bard College for the spring 2013 semester, where he will continue his writing, meet informally with students, and give a public reading.

The Bard Fiction Prize committee writes: “What won the respect of the Bard Fiction Prize judges was the remarkable way the weird, perplexing bleakness of the imagined society is firmly held in place by a narrative style at once bewildered and lucid—it has the air of a kind of deadpan tragedy, of the sort Kafka scared us with, and made us yearn for more. The Bard Fiction Prize has been anxious to celebrate innovation in the novel—and in Conn’s The Fixed Stars we found a perfect match of inventive fable with disquietingly radical storytelling. The prose sparkles with unique images, and the narrative itself is wonderful, at times wondrous even, and a highly original formal work, full of life.”

Brian Conn’s work has appeared in both genre magazines and literary magazines, and The Fixed Stars, his first novel, appeared on Amazon.com’s list of the ten best science fiction and fantasy books of 2010. He is a graduate of Yale University, with an M.F.A. from Brown University, where he began writing The Fixed Stars and cofounded Birkensnake, a fiction annual, with Joanna Ruocco. He lives in California.

Photo by Michelle Carriger