Michael Cunningham to Receive Fairfax Prize at Fall for the Book

Posted: June 23, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Art Taylor

Michael Cunningham, author of “The Hours,” has been named the recipient of the 2008 Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts, which will be presented in September at Mason as part of the Fall for the Book Festival.

Cunningham is the author of four novels, including “The Hours,” which earned both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999.

“Michael Cunningham’s novels have earned both remarkable critical acclaim and a huge popular audience,” says William Miller, executive director of the festival. “The success of his books on these levels speaks to the heart of what our festival is about — building connections between great writers and the wide reading public. We’re honored to have Cunningham join us for our 10th annual year.”

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham

Informed about the award, Cunningham said that he was “surprised, honored and thrilled” and that he looked forward to coming to Mason for Fall for the Book. The Fairfax Prize presentation and a talk by the author will close the 2008 festival on Friday evening, Sept. 26.

Since 2003, the Fairfax Prize has been awarded to writers with significant achievements. Previous prize winners have included Tobias Woolf, Joyce Carol Oates, Norman Mailer and Mitch Albom.

In 2007, the Fairfax County Public Library Foundation began sponsoring the Fairfax Prize, contributing the prize money and helping to select the recipient.

Cunningham’s other novels are “A Home at the End of the World,” also adapted as a film; “Flesh and Blood;” and “Specimen Days.” He also wrote the nonfiction “Land’s End: A Walk through Provincetown.”

In addition to his books, Cunningham’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review and other publications. His story “White Angel” was chosen for “Best American Short Stories 1989,” and another story, “Mister Brother,” appeared in the 2000 O. Henry Collection.

Cunningham also collaborated with Susan Minot on the screenplay for her novel, “Evening.”

He has received a Whiting Writers Award (1995), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1993), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1988) and a Michener Fellowship from the University of Iowa (1982).

Fall for the Book’s 2008 festival features nationally and internationally known writers, including Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, winner of this year’s Mason Award.

Other participants include novelists Richard Bausch, Charles Baxter, Ethan Canin, Ron Carlson, Sue Miller and Porter Shreve; Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning poet C.K. Williams and more than a dozen other poets; memoirists including former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton, Scott Huler and Honor Moore; historians Harold Holzer and Daniel Mark Epstein; and dozens of other writers across a variety of genres.

Fall for the Book takes place Sunday, Sept. 21, through Friday, Sept. 26, on Mason’s Fairfax Campus and at select venues throughout Northern Virginia. All events are free and open to the public. For updated information and a complete list of participants, see www.fallforthebook.org.

Write to at