Annal: 1991 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Results of the PEN/Faulkner Award in the year 1991.

Book:Philadelphia Fire

Philadelphia Fire

John Edgar Wideman

Philadelphia Fire is the most ambitious, most highly praised, and best-selling work of fiction by “one of America’s premier writers of fiction” (The York Times). Based on the 1985 bombing police of a West Philadelphia row house owned the Afrocentric cult Move, it tells of Cudjoe, a writer who returns to his old neighborhood after a decade of self-imposed exile, obsessed with finding the lone boy who was seen running from the flames.

Book:Arrogance

Arrogance

Joanna Scott

In Joanna Scott’s breakthrough novel the Austrian artist Egon Schiele comes to prismatic life in a narrative that defies convention, history, and identity. A self-professed genius and student of August Klimt, Scott’s Schiele repeatedly challenges the boundaries of early twentieth-century Europe. Thrown in jail on charges of immorality, Schiele’s Mephistophelean reputation only grows in stature until at the age of twenty-eight, the artist dies in the Great Flu Pandemic. Told from a crosscurrent of voices, viewpoints and times, this stunning novel won Scott a nomination for the 1991 PEN/Faulkner Award.

Book:The Barnum Museum

The Barnum Museum: Stories

Steven Millhauser

The Barnum Museum is a combination waxworks, masked ball, and circus sideshow masquerading as a collection of short stories. Within its pages, note such sights as: a study of the motives and strategies used by the participants in the game of Clue, including the seduction of Miss Scarlet by Colonel Mustard; the Barnum Museum, a fantastic, monstrous landmark so compelling that an entire town finds its citizens gradually and inexorably disappearing into it; a bored dilettante who constructs an imaginary womanand loses her to an imaginary man!and a legendary magician so skilled at sleight-of-hand that he is pursued by police for the crime of erasing the line between the real and the conjured.

Ingeniously written and orchestrated, each exhibit in The Barnum Museum will compel you to continue, each story becoming a lure to the next.

Book:A Gentleman's Guide to the Frontier

A Gentleman's Guide to the Frontier: A Novel

Joanne Meschery

Book:The Music of Chance

The Music of Chance

Paul Auster

In a Pennsylvania meadow, a young fireman and an angry gambler are forced to build a wall of fifteenth-century stone. For Jim Nashe, it all started when he came into a small inheritance and left Boston in pusuit of “a life of freedom.” Careening back and forth across the United States, waiting for the money to run out, Nashe met Jack Pozzi, a young man with a temper and a plan. With Nashe’s last funds, they entered a poker game against two rich eccentrics, “risking everything on the single turn of a card.” In Paul Auster’s world of fiendish bargains and punitive whims, where chance is a shifting and powerful force, there is redemption, nonetheless, in Nashe’s resolute quest for justice and his capacity for love.

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