2011 Clifton Fadiman Medal

 

In a ceremony on June 8th, Dennis Lehane presented Daniel Woodrell with the 2011 Clifton Fadiman Medal for his novel The Death of Sweet Mister.

 

The Fadiman Medal is given annually to honor a book by a living American author that deserves renewed recognition and a wider readership. Each year, a distinguished American author selects the Fadiman recipient. This year, The Death of Sweet Mister was selected by Dennis Lehane, bestselling author of Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island and seven other books.

 

This award is generously sponsored by Reba and Dave Williams.

 



Daniel Woodrell has been called one of the best kept secrets in American literature and has a large following in Europe where he was long-listed for the Dublin IMPAC Award in 2000 and 2003. He is the author of eight books including Tomato Red which won the 1999 PEN Center USA award for fiction, Woe to Live On which was adapted into a movie by Ang Lee, and Winter’s Bone, recently adapted into an Oscar-nominated film of the same name. Five of Daniel Woodrell's eight published novels were selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Woodrell lives in the Ozarks near the Arkansas line with his wife, Katie Estill.

 

Dennis Lehane’s novels include the New York Times bestsellers The Given Day; Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; Shutter Island and Prayers for Rain; as well as Coronado, a collection of short stories and a play. He and his wife, Angie, divide their time between Boston and the Gulf Coast of Florida.

 

About The Death of Sweet Mister from Publisher's Weekly:


Woodrell (Tomato Red) excels at depicting the seedy side of Southern living, and in this brooding coming-of-age tale he revisits the hardscrabble Ozarks town of West Table, Mo., his dark, insistently realist prose packing a visceral punch. Overweight 13-year-old Shuggie Atkins, sharp and cynical for his age, lives in a ramshackle house situated in a "bone yard" with his perpetually drunk and dreamy mother, Glenda, and his savage stepfather, Red. Despite Red's hot temper, Glenda's tendency to behave foolishly and Shuggie's frustrations, their lives settle into a rough-hewn rhythm: Red comes and goes as he pleases; Shuggie tends to the graveyard grass and helps Red steal painkillers from helpless cancer patients; and Glenda sips her "tea" cocktails and flirts with Shuggie. Then balding but classy Jimmy Vin Pearce roars into their lives in a shiny green T-bird and begins an affair with Glenda. Overcome by jealousy, Shuggie must decide should he betray his mother or grant her happiness? Woodrell displays his characters in an unforgiving light, never succumbing to the urge to romanticize them. Through unsparing prose and deft characterization, he conveys the harsh philosophy best summed up in one of Glenda's rare bits of motherly advice: "You wake up in this here world, my sweet li'l mister, you got to wake up tough. You go out that front door tough of a mornin' and stay tough 'til lights out have you learned that?" Woodrell's merciless realism is shot through with humor and rural wisdom; his work may not be to everyone's taste, but his bleak world is rendered with consummate artistry.

 

 

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