I am stunned and deeply honored to announce that Zazen has won the 2012 PEN Robert Bingham prize for 1stfiction.
I would like to thank the judges, all great writers, Lauren Groff, Dinaw Mengestu, and Nami Mun. I strongly suggest you buy their work (and send them chocolate and whiskey because reading the insane amount of books they read is NOT for the lighthearted).
I would also like to thank the Bingham family for offering the kind of funding needed to support me while writing my current novel. I never knew Robert Bingham, but I am extremely grateful to be a part of the legacy left in his name and will show that by writing more and getting better at it.
I would like to thank the PEN for their work here and abroad. The PEN’s conviction in the writer’s voice and staunch protection of it moves me profoundly. It evokes in me an emotion akin to patriotism, not in service to flag or country, but rather in deference of the human right to make things of beauty. I just can’t believe I have any part in something so damn noble and grand. You should all give money to the PEN, not because of people like me, but because of what they do for writers whose voices have put them in real danger. Support them because they support people like Eskinder Nega, the jailed Ethiopian journalist and blogger, and many others who need the protection of money and visibility. You can join the PEN by clicking on the image below and following the instructions…
Or you can just give them money!
Personally, I want to say that I have been so very fortunate. Many great writers never receive recognition for their work and I feel I have received so much. Winning this award is a cross between playing in the snow on Christmas and rolling down a grassy hill on the best sunny day. It’s just pure joy. But other things should also be said. The truth is, I often lack the emotional scaffolding to keep my chin up on my own. Zazen had supporters all along the way who convinced me to keep trying to get it published then get it in the hands of people who would care about it.
Here are a few of them…
Jay Babcock at Arthur Magazine for serializing Zazen on Arthur in 2009 and constantly trying to help it see the light of day. And I am so happy that Arthur is back in the world!
Richard Nash and Red Lemonade for publishing Zazenand staying behind it and me…
And most importantly, the independent booksellers who got Zazen into people’s hands. They tweeted, they talked, they wrote blog posts, they made shelf talkers, they put it in their windows—they handsold the damn thing until made it’s way into the world and found its people. Nobody would have it if it weren’t for them Here are just a few…Powells, Broadway Books, Annie Bloom’s, WORD, Bank Square Books, Skylight, McNally Jackson, RiverRun Books, and many others. I have met only some of you, but I love you all. Thank you. You have given me a career.
and so many more….