Annal: 1994 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Results of the PEN/Faulkner Award in the year 1994.

Book:Operation Shylock

Operation Shylock: A Confession

Philip Roth

In this fiendishly imaginative book (which may or may not be fiction), Philip Roth meets a man who may or may not be Philip Roth. Because someone with that name has been touring Israel, promoting a bizarre reverse exodus of the Jews. Roth is intent on stopping him, even if that means impersonating his own impersonator.

With excruciating suspense, unfettered philosophical speculation, and a cast of characters that includes Israeli intelligence agents, Palestinian exiles, an accused war criminal, and an enticing charter member of an organization called Anti-Semites Anonymous, Operation Shylock barrels across the frontier between fact and fiction, seriousness and high comedy, history and nightmare.

Book:Bone

Bone

Fae Myenne Ng

In this profoundly moving novel, Fae Myenne Ng takes readers into the hidden heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown, to a world of family secrets, hidden shames, and the lost bones of a “paper father.” It is a world in which two generations of the Leong family live in an uneasy tension as they try to fathom the source of the middle daughter Ona’s sorrow. Fae Myenne Ng’s portraits of the everyday heroism of the Leongs—who inflict deep hurt on each other in their struggles to survive, yet sustain one another with loyalty and love—have made Bone one of the most critically acclaimed novels of recent years and immediately a classic of contemporary American life.

Book:The Magic of Blood

The Magic of Blood

Dagoberto Gilb

In this dynamic collection of short stories, including eight from Winners on the Pass Line (1985), Dagoberto Gilb captures the texture of the Southwest’s working class in clear, ironic, and bitingly realistic fiction about regular people going about their complex lives.

Book:Not Where I Started From

Not Where I Started From

Kate Wheeler

Kate Wheeler’s stories feature peripatetic Americans who seek love or enlightenment—or both—in far-flung corners of the globe. A startling mixture of gentle irony, mischievous humor, and unexpected danger marks the paths of all these characters as they follow their circuitous routes toward happiness. As The New York Times said, “Wheeler has a capacity for compressing the insights of cross-cultural dislocation into deliciously memorable epiphanies.”

Book:Van Gogh's Room at Arles

Van Gogh's Room at Arles: Three Novellas

Stanley Elkin

The author of more than a dozen novels and short-story collections, Stanley Elkin is a master of tragicomedy. His rants, jokes, and characters leave readers torn between laughter and tears and nowhere is Elkin’s sense of humor more manic or more depressing than in this collection of three novellas. “Her Sense of Timing” relates a destructive day in the life of a wheelchair-bound professor abandoned by his wife at the worst possible time, leaving him to preside—helplessly—over a party for his students that careens out of control. “Confessions of a Princess Manque” is the story of an unsuspecting commoner catapulted into royalty when she catches the wandering eye of Prince Larry of Wales. And in the title story, a community college professor searches for his scholarly identity in a land of academic giants while staying in Van Gogh’s famous room at Arles and avoiding run-ins with the Club of the Portraits of the Descendants of the People Painted by Vincent Van Gogh.

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