Simpson Literary Project

2018 Prize Marra

Simpson Family Literary Prize

2018 Prize Recipient

The Simpson Family Literary Prize recognizes annually a mid-career writer who has earned a distinguished reputation and the approbation and gratitude of readers. The Prize Recipient is an author of fiction at the relatively middle stage of a burgeoning career and receives a $50,000 award to encourage and support forthcoming work. There is an application process and an anonymous jury selects the recipient.

2018 ShortList

Anthony Marra—2018 Recipient of the Simpson Family Literary Prize


Anthony Marra is the author of The Tsar of Love and Techno, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, longlisted for the National Book Award and winner of the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and Greece’s Athens Prize for Literature. He has received the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Award, the National Magazine Award, the Berlin Prize Fellowship, and his work has been translated into seventeen languages. In 2017, Granta included Marra on its decennial Best Young American Novelists list. He has taught at Stanford University, and currently lives in Oakland, CA.

Read an essay by Anthony Marra on his year as a Simpson Family Literary Prize recipient.

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.
— Anthony Marra

“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—Constellations 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.” 
– Joyce Carol Oates, Author, Professor, Simpson Family Literary Project Committee

“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.”
– Joe Di Prisco, Chair, Simpson Family Literary Project

“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, Professor and Chair, Berkeley English department

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, Senior Community Library Manager