2010 Fall for the Book Festival Announces Headliners Patchett and Mortenson

Posted: May 17, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: May 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm

By Tara Laskowski and Art Taylor

Ann Patchett is the winner of the 2010 Fairfax Prize.

The Fall for the Book festival taking place Sept. 19 to 24 has named author Ann Patchett as the winner of the 2010 Fairfax Prize and author and education activist Greg Mortenson as the winner of the 2010 Mason Award.

The Fairfax Prize recognizes outstanding achievement in the literary arts, and the Mason Award recognizes authors who have made extraordinary contributions to bringing literature to a wide reading public.

The 12th annual Fall for the Book will feature more than 100 authors at Mason and throughout Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

Patchett’s books include the novel “Bel Canto,” which won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize, and the memoir “Truth & Beauty: A Friendship,” named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle and Entertainment Weekly.

Patchett attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 1990, she won a residential fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., where she wrote her first novel, “The Patron Saint of Liars.”  It was named a New York Times Notable Book for 1992.

Mortenson’s book “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time,” has been an international bestseller, selling more than 3.5 million copies in 39 countries.

The book recounts his aborted attempt in 1993 to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain, and the period he spent being nursed back to health in a small village of Korphe, where he observed children writing in the sand with sticks.

Greg Mortensen, reading to children in Pakistan, is the winner of the 2010 Mason Award.

From this experience and that image, Mortenson vowed to start a school in the region. Soon afterward, he co-founded the nonprofit Central Asia Institute, whose mission is “to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

As of 2009, Mortenson’s work has grown to serve 131 schools throughout that region, providing educational opportunities and literacy programs to more than 58,000 children, including 44,000 girls.

In earning the 2010 Fairfax Prize, Patchett joins a distinguished list of past recipients, including Tobias Wolff, Joyce Carol Oates, Mitch Albom, Michael Cunningham and E.L. Doctorow. The award is sponsored by the Fairfax County Public Library Foundation.

Previous winners of the Mason Award include Dave Eggers, Jonathan Lethem, Chinua Achebe and Sherman Alexie.

For more information about this year’s festival, as well as a list of presenters and readers, bookmark www.fallforthebook.org.

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