Annal: 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Results of the PEN/Faulkner Award in the year 2006.

Book:The March

The March: A Novel

E.L. Doctorow

In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces and lived off the land, pillaging the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, demolishing cities, and accumulating a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the uprooted, the dispossessed, and the triumphant. Only a master novelist could so powerfully and compassionately render the lives of those who marched.

The author of Ragtime, City of God, and The Book of Daniel has given us a magisterial work with an enormous cast of unforgettable characters–white and black, men, women, and children, unionists and rebels, generals and privates, freed slaves and slave owners. At the center is General Sherman himself; a beautiful freed slave girl named Pearl; a Union regimental…[more]

Book:The Chrysanthemum Palace

The Chrysanthemum Palace: A Novel

Bruce Wagner

The Chrysanthemum Palace introduces Bertie Krohn, the only child of Perry Krohn, creator of TV’s longest running space opera, Starwatch: The Navigators (which counts Jennifer Aniston and Donald Rumsfeld among its obsessed fans). Bertie recounts the story of the last months in the lives of his two companions: Thad Michelet, author, actor, and son of a literary titan; and Clea Freemantle, emotionally fragile daughter of a legendary movie star, long dead. Scions of entertainment greatness, they call themselves the Three Musketeers; between them, as Bertie says, “there was more than enough material to bring psychoanalysis back into vogue.” As the incestuous clique attempts to scale the peaks claimed by their sacred yet monstrous parents over a two-week filming of a Starwatch episode in which they costar, Bertie scrupulously chronicles their highs and lows—as well as their futile struggles against the ravenous, narcissistic, and addicted Hollywood that claims them.

Convulsive and poignant, The Chrysanthemum Palace is a tragic tale of friendship and fate writ large—a tour de force by a major writer whose narrative delivers devastating emotional impact.

Book:I Got Somebody in Staunton

I Got Somebody in Staunton: Stories

William Henry Lewis

In twelve graceful, sensual stories, William Henry Lewis traces the line between the real and the imaginary, acknowledging the painful ghosts of the past in everyday encounters. Written in a style that has been acclaimed by our finest writers, from Edward P. Jones and Nikki Giovanni to Dave Eggers, I Got Somebody in Staunton is one of the most highly praised literary events to take on contemporary America.

In the title story, a young professor befriends an enigmatic white woman in a bar along the back roads of Virginia, but has second thoughts about driving her to a neighboring town as his uncle’s stories of lynchings resonate through his mind. Another tale portrays a Kansas City jazz troupe’s travels to Denver, where they hope to strike it big. Meanwhile, a man in the midst of paradise must decide whether he will languish or thrive.

With I Got Somebody in Staunton Lewis has lyrically and unflinchingly chronicled the lives of those most often neglected.

Book:Last Night

Last Night: Stories

James Salter

From a writer whose every book is a literary event, a superbly accomplished work of fiction. Last Night is a spellbinding collection of stories about passion–by turns fiery and subdued, destructive and redemptive, alluring and devastating.

In ten powerful stories, Salter portrays men and women in their most intimate moments. A book dealer faces the truth about his life–as it is and never will be again–when he is visited unexpectedly by his brash former girlfriend. A lonely married woman, after a disturbing encounter with a drunken poet at a dinner party, finds herself irresistibly drawn to his animal surrogate, a huge tawny-eyed dog. A lover of poetry must come to terms with his wife’s request to give up what may be his most treasured relationship. And in the title story, already hailed by Frank Conroy as “a masterpiece, clearly and without question,” a translator, tormented by an agonizing sense of inevitability, assists in his wife’s suicide even as he performs a last betrayal.

A haunting symphony of desire, memory, and loss–from a writer whose assured style and emotional insight make him one of our most compelling voices at work today.

Book:A Sudden Country

A Sudden Country: A Novel

Karen Fisher

A vivid and revelatory novel based on actual events of the 1847 Oregon migration, A Sudden Country follows two characters of remarkable complexity and strength in a journey of survival and redemption.

James MacLaren, once a resourceful and ambitious Hudson’s Bay Company trader, has renounced his aspirations for a quiet family life in the Bitterroot wilderness. Yet his life is overturned in the winter of 1846, when his Nez Perce wife deserts him and his children die of smallpox. In the grip of a profound sorrow, MacLaren, whose home once spanned a continent, sets out to find his wife. But an act of secret vengeance changes his course, introducing him to a different wife and mother: Lucy Mitchell, journeying westward with her family.

Lucy, a remarried widow, careful mother, and reluctant emigrant, is drawn at once to the self-possessed MacLaren. Convinced…[more]

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