Joan Silber and Amina Gautier won the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, recognizing "a body of work that demonstrates excellence in the art of short fiction." They will share the $5,000 prize, to be presented at a public reading and award ceremony in December.
Silber is the author of four story collections (In My Other Life, Ideas of Heaven, The Size of the World, Fools), four novels and the nonfiction work The Art of Time in Fiction. Deborah Tannen, chair of the PEN/ Malamud selection committee, called Silber "a master of the short story. She has a rare gift for capturing the complexity--and beauty--of quotidian moments. Her stories span an astonishing range of countries, characters, and centuries, as she writes with equal ease and insight of sixteenth century Venice, China during the Boxer rebellion, and contemporary New York City. In perfectly crafted prose, she shows how small decisions and chance encounters ripple, in ever widening circles, through a person's life and the lives of others they know, love or have never met."
Gautier's story collections include At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy, and The Loss of All Lost Things. Dolen Perkins-Valdez, a member of the PEN/Malamud selection committee, wrote: "Amina Gautier's unwavering commitment to the short story reveals a writer in full control. And the form is the perfect vehicle for her intellect. Like a scientist who takes apart the human body and puts it back together again to understand how it works, Gautier is unafraid to examine heartbreak, but equally comfortable capturing triumph. Her stories, sweeping and elegant, sophisticated and daring, call the mind and heart to attention."
The Academy of American Poets and its Teach This Poem program won the National Book Foundation's $10,000 Innovations in Reading Prize, awarded annually, with support from the Levenger Foundation, to an individual or organization that has "developed an innovative project which creates and sustains a lifelong love of reading in the community they serve."
With more than 25,000 teachers subscribed, Teach This Poem distributes digitally a weekly poem accompanied by curriculum and related teaching materials such as artwork, maps, and photographs selected by the Academy staff. Poems address timely topics, and classroom activities are designed to provide cross-disciplinary strategies for incorporating poetry into daily school work and encourage not only the appreciation of poetry, but also the development of creative and critical thinking skills.
The Innovations in Reading Prize also has four honorable mentions each year, and for the first time these organizations will be awarded $1,000 to recognize their meaningful work. The 2018 honorable mentions are the Appalachian Prison Book Project, Friends of the Homer Library, Jewish Women International's National Library Initiative and Words Without Borders Campus.
The grand prize winner of the 2017 Nautilus Book Award, honoring "better books for a better world," is The Archipelago of Hope: Wisdom and Resilience from the Edge of Climate Change by Gleb Raygorodetsky (Pegasus Books). A complete list of this year's Nautilus gold and silver winners is available here.