Bennett Sims, 2014 Recipient

Author Bennett Sims has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2014. 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. Sims is receiving the prize for his debut novel, A Questionable Shape (Two Dollar Radio, 2013). In this penetrating novel set in Baton Rouge, Sims writes about a son looking for his undead father and transcends traditional zombie narrative to deliver a wise and philosophical rumination on the nature of memory and loss. Sims will be writer in residence at Bard College for the spring 2014 semester, where he will continue his writing, meet informally with students, and give a public reading.

The Bard Fiction Prize committee writes: “The judges delight in welcoming to the literary community of Bard a writer whose first novel represents a powerful (and very readable) fusion of genres—a story about the vagaries of human perception which is also a wild romp of zombies biting through a curiously lyrical apocalypse. The writing is intricate, thoughtful, its characters are like most of us obsessed with games and devices, the text bejeweled with footnotes. The author was one of the last students of David Foster Wallace, who was the first reader of the first version of this haunting novel of love and estrangement.”

Bennett Sims was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has studied at Pomona College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received a Provost Fellowship and a Michener-Copernicus Award after graduating. A Questionable Shape was published in 2013 by Two Dollar Radio. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in A Public Space, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, Tin House, and Zoetrope: All-Story.

Photo by Carmen Machado