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Annual Bard Fiction Prize is Awarded to Samantha Hunt
Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
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.
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 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 Fiona Maazel for her first novel, Last Last Chance (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008).
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 2011 prize must be received by July 15, 2010. For information about the Bard Fiction Prize, call 845-758-7087, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.bard.edu/bfp. Applicants may also request information by writing to the Bard Fiction Prize, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000.
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This event was last updated on 11-04-2009