Philip Roth Wins First Saul Bellow Award

Posted on April 2, 2007

Philip Roth has won the first PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. The prize is named after Nobel Laureate Bellow, and carries a $40,000 prize.

Prior PEN American President Ron Chernow says in a statement, "The initial selection of Philip Roth sets a very high standard and bodes well for the establishment of this prize as one of the pre-eminent awards of American literature.

Roth says, "To my mind, Saul Bellow and William Faulkner form the backbone of 20th-century American literature. I make this claim not only because of my admiration for its astonishing literary properties but because it has had the widest influence of any book from that period on any number of excellent novelists, not only in America but throughout the English-speaking world. How could I be anything but thrilled to receive an award bearing Saul Bellow's name?"

The new award will be given out every two years. It is funded by a grant from philanthropist Evelyn Stefansson Nef. The winner is chosen by three PEN members or similarly qualified judges. The award goes to a "distinguished living American author of fiction whose body of work in English possesses qualities of excellence, ambition, and scale of achievement over a sustained career which place him or her in the highest rank of American literature."

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