Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has announced that Denis Johnson will posthumously receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction September 2, during the 2017 National Book Festival. Johnson died in May. His widow, Cindy Johnson, will accept the prize.
The author, whose works include the National Book Award-winning Tree of Smoke, Jesus' Son, Train Dreams and The Laughing Monsters, was chosen based on the recommendation of a jury of distinguished authors and prominent literary critics from around the world. "Denis Johnson was a writer for our times," Hayden said. "In prose that fused grace with grit, he spun tale after tale about our walking wounded, the demons that haunt, the salvation we seek. We emerge from his imagined world with profound empathy, a different perspective--a little changed."
Hayden offered the prize to Johnson in March, and he enthusiastically accepted, writing: "The list of past awardees is daunting, and I'm honored to be in such company. My head's spinning from such great news!"
The annual Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction honors an American literary writer "whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that--throughout long, consistently accomplished careers--have told us something revealing about the American experience." Previous winners include Marilynne Robinson, Louise Erdrich, E. L. Doctorow and Don DeLillo.