April 23, 2020
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Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, has been selected as this year’s winner of the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement. As part of this honor, she will visit campus Oct. 25 to give the Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture at the Kenyon Review Literary Festival. She also will be honored at the award gala in New York City on Nov. 6.
The author is known for her empathy of the human condition in her six fiction novels and three nonfiction works. “Ann Patchett combines a sweeping lyrical voice with an ability to create drama that holds readers breathless with anticipation—she's truly among the most daring and singular authors at work today,” said David Lynn ’76, editor of the Kenyon Review and professor of English. “We at the Kenyon Review are thrilled to welcome her to the Kenyon campus as well as to honor her at our 75th anniversary celebrations in New York.”
Patchett is equally honored to receive the award. “Back in my twenties, when I still wrote short stories, I was devoted to the Kenyon Review, both for reading and submitting, but I never got anywhere,” she said. “To come to Kenyon all these years later and be honored for literary achievement is a little bit like winning a Lifetime Achievement Oscar. It’s a lovely acknowledgement. Literary magazines are where I started as a writer. It’s like going door-to-door and knocking, ‘Can I show you my short story?’ I’m just so glad the Kenyon Review is there and that now I have a chance to be a part of it.”
The prize recognizes writers whose influence and importance have shaped the American literary landscape. It celebrates writers for the courage of their vision, their unparalleled imagination and the beauty of their art. Past recipients include Carl Phillips, Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan.