March 7, 2018 Prize for American Fiction Winner Denis Johnson to Be Honored Posthumously
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The Library of Congress will honor the late Denis Johnson, winner of the 2017 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, with an event titled “Stories from a Fallen World: A Tribute to Denis Johnson” on Wednesday, March 28. Acclaimed novelists Jonathan Franzen and Elliot Ackerman will join award-winning journalist Sam Quinones and writer and producer Elizabeth Cuthrell in a discussion on the intersections of war, addiction and discontent, as found in Johnson’s work. The conversation will be moderated by author and Library of Congress literary adviser Marie Arana.
The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free, but tickets are required, and there may be special restrictions. For tickets, please visit this event ticketing site . This event will also be livestreamed on the Library’s Facebook page at facebook.com/libraryofcongress and its YouTube site (with captions) at youtube.com/LibraryOfCongress.
The prestigious Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction annually honors an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden chose Denis Johnson based on the recommendation of a jury of distinguished authors and prominent literary critics from around the world. In March 2017, Hayden offered the prize to Johnson, who enthusiastically accepted.
After a long struggle with cancer, Johnson died May 24. The prize was announced in July 2017, and Johnson’s literary agent, Nicole Aragi, accepted the prize on his behalf during a ceremony at the 2017 National Book Festival.
About the Speakers
Elliot Ackerman is the author of the novels “Green on Blue” (2015) and “Dark at the Crossing” (2017), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, as well as the forthcoming “Waiting for Eden” (2018). He is a frequent contributor to publications such as The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic and others. A former White House Fellow and a U.S. Marine, he served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart.
Marie Arana is the former editor in chief of Book World at The Washington Post. She is the author of the memoir “American Chica” (2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; a collection of essays, “The Writing Life” (2003); the novels “Cellophane” (2006) and “Lima Nights” (2009); as well as the biography “Bolívar: American Liberator” (2013), which was the winner of the Los Angeles Times Prize for nonfiction. She is currently an adviser at the Library of Congress.
Elizabeth Cuthrell is the founder of Evenstar Films, an independent film and theater production company in New York City. She wrote and produced the screenplay for the acclaimed feature film “Jesus’ Son” (2000), which won many awards, including The Little Golden Lion Award and The Ecumenical Award at The Venice Film Festival. Cuthrell produced the premieres of Denis Johnson’s plays “Shoppers Carried by Escalators into the Flames,” “Des Moines” and “Psychos Never Dream.” She is a member of the Producers Guild of America.
Jonathan Franzen is the author of five novels, including “Purity” (2015), “Freedom” (2010) and “The Corrections” (2001), winner of the National Book Award, as well as five works of nonfiction and translation, including “The Kraus Project” (2013) and “Farther Away” (2012). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Sam Quinones is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of three books of narrative nonfiction, including “Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic” (2015), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, and “Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration” (2007). He is formerly a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, where he worked for 10 years. Quinones is a veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking and the border.
About Denis Johnson and the Prize for American Fiction
Johnson was born in Munich, West Germany, the son of an American diplomat, and spent his childhood in the Philippines and Japan before returning to the U.S. to spend the rest of his youth in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He is the author of nine novels, as well as numerous plays, poetry collections, a short-story collection and a novella. Johnson won the National Book Award for his resonant Vietnam novel “Tree of Smoke” (2007), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His short novel “Train Dreams” (2012) was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent work, “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories,” was published in January.
The Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that—throughout long, consistently accomplished careers—have told us something new about the American experience.
Previous winners of the prize are Marilynne Robinson (2016), Louise Erdrich (2015), E. L. Doctorow (2014) and Don DeLillo (2013). Under its previous name, the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for fiction, the awardees were Philip Roth (2012), Toni Morrison (2011), Isabel Allende (2010) and John Grisham (2009). In 2008, the Library presented PulitzerPrize winner Herman Wouk with a lifetime achievement award for fiction writing.
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