Annal: 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Results of the PEN/Faulkner Award in the year 1990.

Book:Billy Bathgate

Billy Bathgate

E.L. Doctorow

In 1930’s New York, Billy Bathgate, a fifteen-year-old high-school dropout, has captured the attention of infamous gangster Dutch Schultz, who lures the boy into his world of racketeering. The product of an East Bronx upbringing by his half-crazy Irish Catholic mother, after his Jewish father left them long ago, Billy is captivated by the world of money, sex, and high society the charismatic Schultz has to offer. But it is also a world of extortion, brutality, and murder, where Billy finds himself involved in a dangerous affair with Schultz’s girlfriend. Relive this story through the title character’s driving narrative, a child’s thoughts and feelings filtered through the sensibilities of an adult, and the result is E.L. Doctorow’s most convincing and appealing portrayal of a young boy’s life. Converging mythology and history, one of America’s most admired authors has captured the romance of gangsters and criminal enterprise that continues to fascinate the American psyche today.

Book:Affliction (Russell Banks)

Affliction

Russell Banks

Wade Whitehouse, divorced, estranged from his young daughter, spends his days as a well-driller, snow-plow operator, and policeman, his nights in a wind-swept trailer park. But when a union boss is killed in an apparent hunting accident near Wade’s home, and he is convinced that it is murder, he seizes the event as a chance to right many wrongs—unaware that as he unravels the mystery he himself will become unravelled. Soon his hunger for justice and self-respect become inseparable from a desperate violence.

Book:The Jump-Off Creek

The Jump-Off Creek

Molly Gloss

William Kittredge called The Jump-Off Creek “a truly beautiful piece of American storytelling.” The struggles of a widowed homesteader braving the austere and unsparing Blue Mountains contain “enough valor to make an ordinary life seem heroic” (Los Angeles Times). Told with Molly Gloss’s unsentimental reserve, this novel is an inspiring reminder of a rich and uniquely American past.

Book:Leaving Brooklyn

Leaving Brooklyn

Lynne Sharon Schwartz

An erotic, eloquent tale that blurs the boundaries between fiction and memoir as Audrey tries to remember an affair at fifteen from the advantage of adulthood.

Book:On the Island

On the Island: New and Selected Stories

Josephine Jacobsen

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