Wolff Receives Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Literature

Posted: August 13, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ellen Acconcia

Tobias Wolff, author of the forthcoming novel Old School and the earlier memoir This Boy’s Life, has been chosen as the first recipient of a new $10,000 literary prize. The Fairfax Prize was established by the Fall for the Book Festival to honor writers for lifetime achievement and contributions to literature.

The new literary award recognizes the recipient at the capstone event of the Fall for the Book Festival, which is held each September on Mason’s Fairfax Campus. This year’s presentation occurs on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 8 p.m. Following the presentation, Wolff will read from his latest work.

Wolff currently teaches in the writing program at Stanford University and earlier taught for a number of years at Syracuse University. Of his selection for the first Fairfax Prize, Wolff says, “Only a blockhead would write for prizes–there aren’t enough to go around, that’s why they’re called prizes–but only a worse blockhead would fail to rejoice at the news of receiving such a distinction as the Fairfax Prize. I am surprised and honored, and particularly honored to be its first recipient.”

Washington writer Matthew Klam, one of the judges on the panel that selected Wolff, said that Wolff “was far and away the committee’s favorite. As writers and readers, we are all very grateful to him for the work he has done.”

The 2003 Fall for the Book Festival begins on Monday, Sept. 15, and includes literary readings as well as panel discussions, debates, and presentations on political, social, and culturally significant issues. The lineup of events, all of which are free, also includes a family and children’s fair on Saturday. In addition to George Mason, the major partners in presenting the festival are the Washington Post, the Fairfax County Public Library, the City of Fairfax, the Associated Writing Programs organization, and Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

Wolff won a PEN/Faulkner award for his novel Barracks Thief. His memoir, This Boy’s Life, was made into a movie starring Ellen Barkin, Robert De Niro, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

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