Bard News & Events

Press Release

Annual Bard Fiction Prize Is Awarded to Fiona Maazel

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
Annual Bard Fiction Prize Is Awarded to Fiona Maazel  Image Credit: Photo by Tobias Everke
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Writer Fiona Maazel has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2009. 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. Maazel is receiving this year’s Bard Fiction Prize for her first novel, Last Last Chance (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). She will be writer in residence at Bard College for the spring 2009 semester, where she will continue her writing, meet informally with students, and give a public reading.

Last Last Chance is the story of Lucy Clark, a drug addict with a highly dysfunctional family who navigates the American landscape in the wake of a lethal plague spread by terrorists. According to the New York Times, the novel is characterized by “funny, lacerating prose.” Publisher’s Weekly calls it “brimming with wit, ideas, and delightfully screwball humor.”

The Bard Fiction Prize committee writes, “Fiona Maazel’s first novel Last Last Chance is an imaginative tour de force, at once wise and whacked, elegiac and fantastical, hilarious and hair-raising. Sentence for sentence, scene for scene, Maazel is one of the most gifted prose stylists to emerge in recent years, her work reminding us at times of Kathy Acker or the late David Foster Wallace, but with a voice all her own. With unflinching eye and scalpel-sharp prose, she has created an America that teeters on the edge of apocalypse as its benighted denizens must chance their way through the complexities of an addiction-and-recovery culture, one threatened by a ‘superplague’ virus, one given to love lost and lost again. The world according to Lucy Clark—drug-addict, seeker, survivor—is populated with an astonishing array of characters, from her grandmother Agneth who believes in reincarnation, to her despairing boyfriend Stanley who is haunted by his dead wife. But it is Lucy, finally, we care about most. Lucy whose triumph it is, after all the self-and-otherwise-induced hells she has soldiered through, to ‘think clearly . . . at last,’ to be able to answer the towering question, ‘What happened to me?’ Fiona Maazel’s Last Last Chance is the work of a writer whose prodigious gifts as a stylist and blistering intelligence promise a limitless potential for future work.”

Maazel is the former managing editor of the Paris Review and the recipient of a 2005 Lannan Literary Fellowship. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Village Voice, Boston Book Review, Mississippi Review, Tin House, Bomb, and among other publications. She graduated from Williams College and received an M.F.A. from Bennington College.

The creation of the Bard Fiction Prize, presented each October, continues Bard’s long-standing position as a center for creative, groundbreaking literary work by both faculty and students. From Saul Bellow, William Gaddis, Mary McCarthy, and Ralph Ellison to John Ashbery, Philip Roth, William Weaver, and Chinua Achebe, Bard’s literature faculty, past and present, represents some of the most important American writers of our time. The prize is intended to encourage and support young writers of fiction to pursue their creative goals and provide an opportunity to work in a fertile and intellectual environment. Last year’s Bard Fiction Prize was awarded to writer Salvador Plascencia for his first novel, The People of Paper (McSweeney’s, 2005).

The Bard Fiction Prize is awarded to a promising, emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application. In addition to the monetary award, the winner receives an appointment as writer in residence at Bard College for one semester, without the expectation that he or she teach traditional courses. The recipient gives at least one public lecture and meets informally with students. To apply, candidates should write a cover letter explaining the project they plan to work on while at Bard and submit a C.V., along with three copies of the published book they feel best represents their work. No manuscripts will be accepted. Applications for the 2010 prize must be received by July 15, 2009. For information about the Bard Fiction Prize, call 845-758-7087, send an e-mail to, or visit Applicants may also request information by writing to the Bard Fiction Prize, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000.

# # #

back to top

This event was last updated on 10-27-2008