E.L. Doctorow, Sherman Alexie to Receive Awards at 2009 Fall for the Book

Posted: April 6, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski and Art Taylor

The Fall for the Book festival, to be held Monday, Sept. 21, through Saturday, Sept. 26, will present its top awards this year to E.L. Doctorow, one of America’s most distinguished men of letters, whose collective fiction has offered a masterful chronicle of U.S. history; and to Sherman Alexie, an author whose works have explored the American Indian experience and who was named by The New Yorker as one of the 20 top writers for the 21st century.

Fall for the Book logo

Alexie, author most recently of the National Book Award-winning young adult novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” will receive this year’s Mason Award on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on the Fairfax Campus.

Doctorow, author of “The March,” which was a winner of both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, will receive the 2009 Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts and read from his forthcoming novel, “Homer & Langley,” on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m., also in the Concert Hall.

“At a time when many commentators seem to be sounding the death knell for literature and literary writing, these two authors prove the continued vitality and urgency of the written word,” says William Miller, executive director of the Fall for the Book festival.

“We’re excited to have Doctorow and Alexie join us for the festival’s 11th year – the start of our second decade, a milestone that helps prove our own vitality. In this time of economic difficulty for arts organizations everywhere, we’re pushing ahead – offering our 100-author festival, as always, free to the public and expanding with more partnerships at more venues throughout Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland.”

In addition to “The March,” Doctorow’s novels include “Welcome to Hard Times,” “The Book of Daniel,” “Ragtime” (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award), “Loon Lake,” “World’s Fair” (winner of the National Book Award), “Billy Bathgate” (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award) and “The Waterworks,” as well as the short story collections “Lives of the Poets” and “Sweet Land Stories.”

“Ragtime” was named one of the top 100 novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library editorial board and was also adapted into an Academy Award-nominated 1981 film and a Tony Award-nominated 1998 musical.

In earning the Fairfax Prize, Doctorow joins a distinguished list of past recipients, including Tobias Woolf, Joyce Carol Oates, Norman Mailer, Mitch Albom and Michael Cunningham. The prize is sponsored by the Fairfax County Public Library Foundation.

In addition to “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” Alexie’s fiction includes “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” (the basis for the award-winning film “Smoke Signals,” which Alexie wrote and produced), “Reservation Blues” (winner of the Booklist’s Editors Choice Award for Fiction), “Indian Killer, The Toughest Indian in the World” (winner of the PEN/Malamud Award), “Ten Little Indians” and “Flight.” Alexie is also the author of several books of poetry, most recently “Face.” In 2002 he made his directorial debut with the film “The Business of Fancydancing.” His other awards include an O. Henry Prize for his short fiction and a Shelley Memorial Award for his poetry.

Fall for the Book’s Mason Award has previously been presented to Dave Eggers, Jonathan Lethem and Chinua Achebe.

For updated information and for a complete list of participating authors, see www.fallforthebook.org.

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