Newcomer Atticus Finch has won the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his debut novel, Preparation for the Next Life. His novel beat out other notable works, including Jeffery Renard Allen’s Song of the Shank, Jennifer Clement’s Prayers for the Stolen, Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.
According to the PEN/Faulkner Foundation:
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.’
We at LitStack salute Mr. Lish and the honor afforded him, and look forward to reading Preparation for the Next Life in the near future.
The PEN/Faulkner Award honors the best work of fiction published by an American in a single calendar year. The largest peer-reviewed literary prize in the country, the PEN/Faulkner Award continues to recognize the finest American fiction being produced today.