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Academics
August 11, 2009

Short List Announced for St. Francis College Literary Prize

$50,000 Award to be Announced at Brooklyn Book Festival Gala, September 12

From nearly 40 submissions, the jury for the first ever St. Francis College Literary Prize has selected a short list of four authors who will now compete for the $50,000 award which will be announced at the Gala Opening Night Party of the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 12. The authors are: Chris Abani, Song For Night (Akashic Books); Aleksandar Hemon, Love and Obstacles (Riverhead Books); Jim Krusoe, Girl Factory (Tin House Books) and Arthur Phillips, The Song Is You (Random House).

The jury for the award is a literary all-star team featuring Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay), National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction winner Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn), author and co-editor of The Believer magazine Heidi Julavits (The Uses of Enchantment: A Novel), author and professor at the MFA writing program at Columbia University Ben Marcus (Notable American Women) and New York Times bestselling author Ayelet Waldman (Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace).

"The jurists bring an amazing diversity of schools of thought about the art of writing," said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean Tim Houlihan. "Watching them debate the merits of each book and ultimately come to a consensus on these four authors was impressive. No matter who takes home the prize, the entire St. Francis College community comes out a winner."

In addition to attending an award ceremony to be scheduled for the fall, the prize recipient will also conduct a short fiction workshop for a group of students and perform a reading from the winning book.

"The Brooklyn Book Festival is thrilled that our partner and neighbor St. Francis College is offering this spectacular career-advancing $50,000 prize which certainly will contribute greatly to the freedom of a respected artist to pursue his or her long-term literary career," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "The outstanding jury has narrowed the field to four exceptional writers. I look forward to the Brooklyn Book Festival Gala, when the recipient of the St. Francis College Literary Prize will be announced on the eve of our hip, smart, diverse—and bigger-than-ever—fourth annual Brooklyn Book Festival."

The Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, September 13 from 10am to 6pm is expected to once again draw tens of thousands of people to Borough Hall to meet and listen to about 150 authors from all genres and age groups.

About the authors:

Nigerian born Chris Abani is a widely acclaimed young African writer, having earned a Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction, won the PEN Beyond the Margins Award and been selected a New York Times Editor's Choice. He is currently a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Song For Night takes you inside the head of a 15 year old boy who searches for mines in a war ravaged African country.

Aleksandar Hemon was born in Sarajevo and moved to Chicago shortly before his home city came under siege in 1992. His collection of short stories, Love and Obstacles, piece together to tell the story of a young man coming of age and about to leave communist Sarajevo as the city is reeling from war. He was awarded a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation and named finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award.

Jim Krusoe is a poet and novelist whose numerous short stories essays and book reviews have been published in a variety of publications. His dark, satirical novel, Girl Factory, is centered on a discovery in the basement of a frozen yogurt shop. Krusoe has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest fund. He is a professor at Santa Monica College and Antioch University, Los Angeles in the graduate writing program.

Born in Minneapolis and now living in Brooklyn, Arthur Phillips tried his hand at child acting, speechwriting, as a jazz musician and even a champion on Jeopardy before becoming a novelist. His novel, The Song Is You, tells the story of an iPod obsessed man and his long distance love affair with a singer. Phillips' work has landed him on the New York Times Notable Book and The Washington Post best fiction lists.

The St. Francis College Literary Prize is awarded to a mid-career artist in support of their continuing work.

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.
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