Louise Erdrich Awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction

The Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction (known originally as the  Lifetime Louise ErdrichAchievement Award for the Writing of Fiction, then the Creative Achievement Award) honors “an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that, throughout long, consistently accomplished careers, have told us something about the American experience.”*  Past winners of the award, established in 2008, include Herman Wouk, John Grisham, Isabel Allende, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, Don De Lillo and E.L. Doctorow.

On Tuesday, the 2014 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction was awarded to Louise Erdrich.  In his statement announcing the award, the Librarian of Congress James Billington said, “Throughout a remarkable string of virtuosic novels, Louise Erdrich has portrayed her fellow Native Americans as no contemporary American novelist ever has, exploring—in intimate and fearless ways—the myriad cultural challenges that indigenous and mixed-race Americans face.

“Her prose manages to be at once lyrical and gritty, magical yet unsentimental, connecting a dreamworld of Ojibwe legend to stark realities of the modern-day. And yet, for all the bracing originality of her work, her fiction is deeply rooted in the American literary tradition.”

This has been a good year for Ms. Erdrich, as earlier she received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, another lifetime achievement award.

Ms. Erdrich is a member of the of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa (Anishinaabe/Ojibwe) Indians.  Most of her work depicts contemporary Native American life and encompasses the complexities of mixed heritages.  A representation of other literary awards she has received includes a National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (for Love Medicine in 1984), a World Fantasy Award (for The Antelope Wife in 1999) and a National Book Award (for The Round Housein 2012).  Her 2008 novel, A Plague of Doves, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  She currently resides in Minnesota where she owns Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis that focuses on Native American literature.

*from the Library of Congress website

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