Marching to VictoryGAMBIER, Ohio (February 22, 2006) The March, by acclaimed novelist E.L. Doctorow, Class of 1952, has won both the 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award and the 2005 National Book Critics Circle prize for fiction. Doctorow also won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Critics Circle prize for Billy Bathgate. The novel, Doctorow's account of the devastation wrought by General William Tecumseh Sherman's progress through the South during the final stages of the Civil War, follows the lives of several fictional characters, but includes scenes with actual historical figures. Also a finalist for the National Book Award, The March is considered a strong candidate to win Doctorow his first Pulitzer Prize; 2006 Pulitzer winners and finalists will be announced April 17.
Doctorow earned a B.A. in philosophy, with honors, at Kenyon, where he studied with professor John Crowe Ransom, the poet, critic, and first editor of the Kenyon Review. Doctorow, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Kenyon in 1976, is Lewis and Loretta Glucksman Professor in American Letters at New York University. In 2002, he was the first recipient of the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, honoring a career dedicated to excellence.
Among other honors, he has received the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and the American Academy Arts and Letters Award for Ragtime (1975), which was adapted into a film in 1980, and a Broadway musical in 1998. He received the National Book Award for World's Fair (1985), and the William Dean Howells Medal for Billy Bathgate (1990).
The PEN/Faulkner Award was established in 1980 by writers to recognize their peers' excellence in fiction. Named for novelist William Faulkner, who funded an award for young writers with his Nobel Prize winnings, the PEN/Faulkner is the largest juried award for fiction in the United States. The judges selected the five finalists from more than 359 novels and short story collections published by American authors in 2005.
The National Book Critics Circle was founded in 1974; more than 700 active members vote on the prizes awarded annually for excellence in fiction, general nonfiction, biography, autobiography, and criticism. The NBCC citation honoring The March reads, in part, "E.L. Doctorow's The March is a meditation on many things, foremost among them the turbulence created when the social fabric is rent by 60,000 troops trampling a 30-mile-wide swath through the countryside. An army marches and people die--and those who don't may become refugees or amputees -- but it is dynamics at the personal level, the shift in mind-set, the grit and texture of the moment, that Doctorow foregrounds to brilliant effect."