Simpson Family Literary Project
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2018 Literary Prize Winner: Anthony Marra

SFLP Contact
Beth Needel
Office
925.283.6513 ext. 104
Cell: 925.788.8042
Email: bneedel@lllcf.org
Website: www.simpsonliteraryproject.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2018

NOVELIST ANTHONY MARRA CHOSEN AS WINNER OF THE
2018 SIMPSON FAMILY LITERARY PRIZE

Novelist Wins the Annual $50,000 Fiction Prize Recognizing Mid-Career Authors

LAFAYETTE, CA, April 3, 2018—Anthony Marra, the award-winning author of The Tsar of Love and Techno and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth/Penguin Random House), has been named the winner of the 2018 Simpson Family Literary Prize. The Prize is awarded by the Simpson Family Literary Project, an innovative private/public partnership between the University of California, Berkeley, English Department and the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation, in association with the Contra Costa County Library. The Project fosters new literature, supports authors, and enhances the lives of readers, writers, educators, and students in diverse communities in California and the nation. The Project serves high-school age writers and supports a Writer in Residence program at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation.

“Anthony Marra is one writer to hold very close to your heart. Something tells me people will be eagerly, rapturously reading him for decades and decades to come, and then some. Though every one of our Finalists is beyond question a world-class talent, we are delighted to award the 2nd Annual Simpson Prize to the most marvelous Mr. Marra.”
Joseph Di Prisco, Chair, Simpson Family Literary Project

Author Joyce Carol Oates, who presented Marra with the Prize, said, “Anthony Marra is a warmly inspired storyteller and a brilliant stylist. He is at once a chronicler of savage history and of the most tenderly intimate of emotions.  Both his highly acclaimed works of fiction—A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno—astonish with their capacity for illuminating the secrets of the human heart and will endure as unique contributions to American literature of the early 21st century.”

Marra responded: "I am deeply honored and grateful to receive the 2nd annual Simpson Family Literary Prize. I will use the time this opportunity affords to finish my current project, a historical novel about the community of European refugees and exiles in 1940s Hollywood.

“This is my first work set in America, and though midcentury Los Angeles (“Sunny Siberia,” as exiles called it) is new terrain, this novel is preoccupied with the same concerns as my previous books: political coercion, historical amnesia, and falsified realities. At a time when these themes dominate American political life, this novel and the questions it raises feel all the more urgent to me. I look forward to discussing this and more in engagements with the Berkeley English Department and the Lafayette Library and Learning Center.

“My current novel, like The Tsar of Love and Techno and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, is structured as a tapestry of interwoven narratives and voices. It’s an architecture I’m drawn to because it suggests that storytelling is communal. And so it gives me tremendous pride to think that the little thread of my life has been woven into the larger story of the Simpson Family Literary Project.”

A graduate of USC and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and raised in Washington, DC, Marra was selected from five shortlist finalists by an anonymous jury of authors confidentially nominated by distinguished critics, authors, professors, booksellers, and book reviewers from around the country. As Simpson Prize Winner, he will give readings in the Bay Area in October 2018, and participate in a two-week residence in Lafayette and Berkeley, California, during the spring semester of 2019.

“If you believe as we do that Storytelling is the foundation of a literate society, then read the works of Anthony Marra and feel confident about our future,” said Beth Needel, Executive Director of the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation. “We are excited to share his vision through the Simpson Prize. He is a writer who knows how to freshly craft a tale, confront difficult issues seemingly effortlessly, and introduce characters we’ve never met before whom we have known forever.”

“The Berkeley English Department is, once again, honored to be partnering with the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation in announcing our second annual Simpson recipient, Anthony Marra, whose fictions trace events in the former Soviet bloc, is a marvel of a storyteller, a writer whose characters speak to us directly about their pain, hope and sense of possibility. Marra is a deeply humane artist, and we are grateful that he will represent our commitment to promoting writing
that shapes the world for the better.”
Genaro Padilla, Chair, English Department, University of California, Berkeley

Anthony Marra is a star in the constellations of vital literature. His writing captures a universe of life experiences while providing the reader with page after page of incredibly rich language with which to savor his deeply moving stories. We are honored to award the 2018 Simpson Literary Prize to Anthony Marra.
Vickie Sciacca, Lafayette Library Manager

The other authors in the Prize’s short list were Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco); Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark (FSG); Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs (Penguin); and Martin Pousson, author of Black Sheep Boy (Rare Bird). Oates will continue as an official Simpson Family Literary Project Writer-in-Residence; and 2017 Simpson Family Literary Prize Winner, T. Geronimo Johnson, author of Welcome to Braggsville (HarperCollins), will continue his efforts and engagements with the Simpson Family Literary Project.

The Simpson Family Literary Project, established in 2016, is an innovative private/public partnership between the University of California Berkeley, English Department and the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation, in association with the Contra Costa County Library. The Project fosters new literature, supports authors, and enhances the lives of readers, writers, educators, librarians, and students in diverse communities in California and the nation. The Project serves high-school age writers and supports a Writer in Residence program at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation.

The eminent and celebrated Joyce Carol Oates will continue as an official Simpson Family Literary Project Writer-in-Residence; and 2017 Simpson Family Literary Prize Winner, T. Geronimo Johnson, author of Welcome to Braggsville (HarperCollins), will continue his efforts and engagements with the Simpson Family Literary Project.

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For more information, please contact Beth Needel at 925.283.6513 ext. 104 or email at bneedel@lllcf.org.

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