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Congrats to Jim Krusoe! And Persistence!
Jim Krusoe–our dear, dear friend and idol–has been shortlisted for the St. Francis College Literary Prize, an award for a fourth work of fiction.
The prize carries a $50,000 purse and the honor of being nominated alongside Aleksandar Hemon (who kindly endorsed Rasskazy, our forthcoming anthology of Russian Short Stories), Chris Abani (who was recently featured in Tin House editor Rob Spillman’s anthology Gods and Soldiers) and Arthur Phillips (whose new novel The Song is You just jumped even higher up on my to-read list when I learned he was a five-time Jeopardy! champion…take that, Ken Jennings). Judges include a few people you may have heard of (Michael Chabon, Heidi Julivits, Jonathan Lethem, and Ben Marcus).
Other than patting Krusoe’s very-deserving back, I wanted to mention how encouraged I am that two of the four books nominated were published by small presses (Abani’s latest was put out by the wonderful Akashic Books), and, really, that this award exists at all. The trend in publishing seems to have moved toward a sink-or-swim mantra–if Bookscan doesn’t show a solid pattern of sales for your first book, it’s not easy to get support for those that follow. If publishing houses hadn’t fostered the career’s of promising writers that lacked first-book sales figures of Jonathan Safron Foer, think of the works we would have missed out on. I’m thrilled that a major award is looking not for the next pretty young thing (not that these boys aren’t pretty), but keeping an eye on those talented writers who have flown under the mainstream’s radar and persisted with the kind of writing that made me want to work in this field in the first place.
Of course we’re pulling for our favorite son, but I’m happy to know that St. Francis has used their resources to promote and reward such brilliant authors, and at this point in their careers. I only hope it has some trickle down effect for an industry that seems all too ready give up on any writer that doesn’t sell 20,000 copies right out of the gates.
The winner will be announced at the Gala Opening Night Party of the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 12, and while we feign sportsmanship above, the Gala will look like a Town Hall Meeting on Health Care if Krusoe doesn’t win…be warned, Chabon!