#LibraryOfCongress; #JoyWillams; #2021LoCPrizeforAmericanFiction; #CarlaHayden
Washington/Canadian-Media: Joy Williams, the novelist, short-story and non-fiction author, known for works such as “State of Grace” and “The Quick and the Dead,” wins the 2021 Library of Congress (LoC) Prize for American Fiction, Librarian Carla Hayden announced today.
Joy Williams, wearing her trademark prescription sunglasses, accepts the 2021 Prize for American Fiction from Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Image credit: Rob Casper.
Presented annually for a lifetime of outstanding work, the award will be presented during this year’s National Book Festival in September.
“This is a wonderful award and one that inspires much humility,” said Williams, who now resides primarily in Arizona, but who also is known for her cross-country road trips. “The American story is wild, uncapturable and discomfiting, and our fiction — our literature — is poised to challenge and deeply change us as it becomes ever more inclusive and ecocentric,” Library of Congress reported.
The Prize for American Fiction is one of the Library’s most prestigious awards and honors an American author whose work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination.
Colson Whitehead was last year’s winner. Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, Don DeLillo and Louise Erdrich are some of the previous awardees.
Hayden said that she was both pleased and honored to confer this prize on Joy Williams, in celebration of her almost half-century of extraordinary work and continued,
“Her work reveals the strange and unsettling grace just beneath the surface of our lives. In a story, a moment, a single sentence, it can force us to reimagine how we see ourselves, how we understand each other — and how we relate to the natural world.”
The selection of Williams by Hayden as this year’s winner was based on nominations from more than 60 distinguished literary figures, including former winners of the prize, acclaimed authors and literary critics from around the world.
Williams is the author of four short story collections, two works of nonfiction and five novels, including the upcoming “Harrow.”
“Harrow,” by Joy Williams, will be published in September.
“We are American writers, absorbing the American experience,” she once said at a literary conference, as quoted by the Paris Review in 2014. “We must absorb its heat, the recklessness and ruthlessness...its greedy optimism and dangerous sentimentality. And we must write with a pen—in Mark Twain’s phrase—warmed up in hell. We might have something then, worthy, necessary; a real literature instead of the Botox escapist lit told in the shiny prolix comedic style that has come to define us.”
Best known for her short stories, different offbeat characters often middle-class and on their way down, related in grim and darkly comic narratives populate all of her works. Her essays, particularly about the environment, are fierce and uncompromising.