2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Winner
Atticus Lish is the winner of the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his novel Preparation for the Next Life (Tyrant Books).
Atticus Lish’s Preparation for the Next Life is a document of the undocumented and an unlikely love story between a Chinese Muslim immigrant, Zou Lei, and a traumatized Iraq War veteran, Skinner. Skinner comes to New York after a disastrous tour in Iraq, looking for a party, “holding to the idea that if he partied hard enough, he’d eventually succeed in having a good time and would start wanting to live again.” Zou Lei comes to New York fresh from a deportation scare in order to, “stay where everybody was illegal just like her and get lost in the crowd.” When they cross paths in a food court, they fall into a relationship haunted by Zou Lei’s fear of deportation and the symptoms of Skinner’s post-traumatic stress disorder. There is little, it seems, either can do to save the other. Preparation for the Next Life forces readers to look squarely at a host of the failures plaguing contemporary American society. Lish’s prose is dogged and steadfast as he describes his characters’ raw reality and the desperate lives they struggle to lead. Praising the novel in The Nation, Madison Smartt Bell writes: “The members of our polymorphous underclasses most often appear as statistics; in presenting a few of them as individuals, Lish offers his audience a salubrious shock.”
The other four finalists are:
Jeffery Renard Allen for Song of the Shank (Graywolf Press)
Jennifer Clement for Prayers for the Stolen (Hogarth)
Emily St. John Mandel for Station Eleven (Alfred A. Knopf)
Jenny Offill for Dept. of Speculation (Alfred A. Knopf)
The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is a national prize which honors the best published works of fiction by American citizens in a calendar year. Three writers are chosen annually by the directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation to serve as judges for the prize, and these judges are asked to select five books (from among the more than 350 works submitted each year) as finalists for the award, making this the largest peer-juried award in the country.
Check out more about the nominees, past winners and the award itself at the PEN/Faulkner website. Looking for your next good read? Head over to our recommendations page or ask for a Personalized Reading List.