O'Connor Collection Wins in National Vote
New York, NY (November 19, 2009)
— More than 10,000 people cast ballots in the first public vote in the history of the National Book Awards, and when the votes were tallied The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
was named "Best of the National Book Awards Fiction from 1950 to 2008", it was announced last night at a ceremony honoring the 2009 National Book Award nominees and recipients.
The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor – winner of the 1972 National Book Award for Fiction – was one of six titles in contention for the special prize, created to mark the 60th anniversary of the National Book Awards, which celebrate American literature. In July, the National Book Foundation, the governing body that manages the awards, announced a campaign to select the best book from among the 77 winners in the fiction category since the inception of the awards in 1950. Previous National Book Award winners, finalists, and judges trimmed the list of 77 winning books to six of their favorite titles and presented them for an unprecedented public vote online from September 21 through October 21. Rounding out the list of finalists for the singular honor were two other books by Yaddo authors – John Cheever's The Stories of John Cheever and Eudora Welty's The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty — plus Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, and William Faulkner's Collected Stories of William Faulkner.
, who died in 1964 at age 39, was at Yaddo in 1948 and 1949, working on portions of what would become her first published novel, Wise Blood
. The publication in 1971 of The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
helped to establish O'Connor's contribution to American fiction. The collection features 33 stories, including 12 that do not appear in the only two story collections O'Connor put together in her short lifetime — Everything That Rises Must Converge
and A Good Man Is Hard to Find
. Paul Lisicky
, a Yaddo author who took part in the nomination process, said of O'Connor: "... there's her vividness on the page, the sense of irreverence, the sense of raucous play. Tonal slipperiness — and control. Her ability to turn the most low-down things into shining things. Bravery. Some of my favorite writers ... would not be who they are without her. In truth, I'm not sure American literature post-1972 would be what it is without her." Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor
, by Yaddo writer Brad Gooch
, was published earlier this year and will be excerpted in the winter edition of the Yaddo News
Two other Yaddo writers — Jayne Anne Phillips and Ann Lauterbach — were among the honorees at this year's National Book Awards ceremony. Phillips was a finalist in the fiction category for her highly acclaimed novel Lark and Termite and Lauterbach was on the top list of nominees in poetry for her well received collection Or to Begin Again. Yaddo authors have won 61 National Book Awards; for a complete list, click here.