CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Jan. 8, 2003
(NOTE TO EDITORS: The press contact at the American Academy of Arts and
Letters is Betsey Feeley, 212-368-5900.)
UI Writers’ Workshop Alumna Gish Jen Wins Lucrative Writing
Gish Jen, an alumna of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop,
has been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters with a $250,000
Strauss Living, the most lucrative literary honor in the United States. The
Strauss Livings provide $50,000 per year for five years, to provide writers
the freedom to devote their time and energy exclusively to writing.
Two writers have been selected for the award every five years since 1983,
and half the honorees have had connections with the Writers’ Workshop
-- faculty member Marilynne Robinson was honored in 1998 and former workshop
students Raymond Carver, John Casey and Joy Williams have also received Strauss
Jen is the author of the novels “Typical American,” which was
a finalist for the National Book Award” and “Mona in the Promised
Land,” as well as the short-story collection “Who’s Irish?” Her
previous honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim
Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Fellowship. She
has been a visiting faculty member at the Writers’ Workshop, and she
was most recently a guest lecturer at Harvard University.
The awards were the result of a bequest by Harold and Mildred Strauss. Harold
Strauss was, for many years, the editor-in-chief of the publishing firm Alfred
A. Knopf. The other award in this round of the Strauss Livings went to novelist
Claire Messud, author of “The Last Life,” “When the World
Was Steady” and “The Hunters: Two Short Novels.”
The American Academy of Arts and Letters was chartered by Congress in 1898
to “foster, assist and sustain an interest in literature, music, and
the fine arts.” Each year the academy award nearly $1 million to artists,
architects, writers and composers.
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