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Release: May 15, 2002
Declan Kiberds Irish Classics wins 2002 Capote Award
Classics by Declan Kiberd, head of the English department at University
College Dublin, is the winner of the 2001 Truman Capote Award for Literary
Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin. The $50,000 Capote Award, the largest
annual cash prize for literary criticism in the English language, is administered
for the Truman Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.
The book, published in the United States by Harvard University Press and
by Granta in Ireland and the UK, was selected for the Capote Award by an international
panel of prominent critics and writers -- Terry Castle, Garrett Stewart, Michael
Wood, John Kerrigan, William Gass and Peter Brooks -- each of whom nominated
two books. Books of general literary criticism in English, published during
the last four years, are eligible for nomination. After reading all the nominated
books, each critic ranked the nominees, and the winner was determined by a
tally of the votes.
The panelists choices were reviewed and confirmed by Frank Conroy,
director of the UI Writers Workshop.
Harvard University Press describes the Irish Classics as a
celebration of the tenacious life of the enduring Irish classics
one of Irish writing's most eloquent readers. The book surveys Irish
literature in both Gaelic and English, beginning in 1600, including Kiberds
idiomatic translations of Gaelic poems for English-speaking readers.
Kiberd is also the author of Inventing Ireland, a winner in the
Irish Times Irish Literature Prizes. Irish Classics has already
won the Robert Rhodes Award from the American Committee of Irish Studies.
Critic Colin Cardwell commented, Irish Classics is a magisterial,
yet passionate, evocative and wonderfully accessible journey through the literary
masterpieces in both Irish and English from the 16th century to the present.
. . It is a tale of constant decline, fall and rebirth; of a country with
a persistent talent for reinvention that, amid waves of cultural waves, informs
and drives the vitality of Irish Literature.
And the critic of the Tribune (UK) wrote, What Kiberd has succeeded
in doing so remarkably is to draw together the writers in the two languages
and in diverse cultural traditions within the same critical-historical framework.
. . [His] critical sophistication is connected seamlessly to the masterly
and thought-provoking introductory essays on his 30-plus authors and texts.
Kiberds critical language is wonderfully malleable and versatile.
The Truman Capote Estate announced the establishment of the Truman Capote
Literary Trust in 1994, during a breakfast at Tiffanys restaurant in
New York City, on the 40th anniversary of the publication of Capotes
novella Breakfast at Tiffanys. Among the breakfast guests
were John Updike, George Plimpton, Mary Tyler Moore, Patricia Neal, Dominick
Dunne, Geoffrey Holder and Richard Avedon.
Past winners of the Capote Award have been British scholar P.N. Fairbank,
Helen Vender of Harvard University, John Felstiner of Stanford University,
John Kerrigan of Cambridge University, pianist/scholar Charles Rosen of the
University of Chicago, Elaine Scarry and Philip Fisher of Harvard University,
and Malcolm Bowie of Oxford University.
In addition to the administration of the literary criticism award, the Writers
Workshop involvement with the trust includes the awarding of Truman Capote
Fellowships to UI students in creative writing.
The establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust was stipulated in the
authors will, and the Annual Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism
in Memory of Newton Arvin reflects Capotes frequently expressed concern
for the health of literary criticism in the English language. The awards are
designed to reward and encourage excellence in the field.
Newton Arvin, in whose memory the award was established, was one of the critics
Capote admired. However, Arvins academic career at Smith College was
destroyed in the late 1940s when his homosexuality was exposed.
The first of the university-based creative writing programs that have collectively
transformed the terrain of American literary life, the UI Writers Workshop
has nurtured poets and fiction writers for more than 60 years. UI writing
alumni have won more than a dozen Pulitzer Prizes, have been honored with
virtually every other major American literary award, and count among their
number many of Americas most popular and critically acclaimed writers.
Workshop faculty member Marvin Bell is currently Iowas first Poet Laureate.
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