Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, which I think easily qualifies as the breakout literary novel of 2008 (non-Oprah pick division), captured its first big prize today, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. We should put up an Awards Glossary or something, but here's the skinny on the PEN/Faulkner: it's self-described as the "largest peer-juried prize for fiction in the United States," with $15,000 for the winner. It's designed as an authors' award: it was established by the international writers organization, and books can be submitted by their authors, not by publishers as is often the case with big prizes.
Like the Pulitzers, the next big award on the calendar, the finalists aren't announced beforehand, but they each receive $5,000 prizes and are considered award-winners in their own right, kind of like the Newbery Honor winners. Here's the full list:
- Winner:Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
- Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
- A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
- Lush Life by Richard Price
- Serena by Ron Rash
A lot of in-house favorites on that list: Netherland (#15), Ms. Hempel (#95), Lush Life (#18), and Serena (#7) were all in our 2008 editors' top 100.
You can see our list of previous PEN/Faulkner winners and finalists: In its 23 years, Philip Roth has won it three times, and Ha Jin and E.L. Doctorow twice each. --Tom