(BOSTON - August, 2012) PEN New England is pleased to announce the inaugural Cerulli Award For Literary Excellence in Sports Fiction and the creation of a Sports Writing Hall of Fame. We are grateful to Kurt and Mary Cerulli for their commitment to PEN, for founding this award, and for establishing a literary museum to honor and enshrine sports writing classics. The winner receives a $5,000 prize and will be honored this year on Thursday, December 6th.
Sports writing, in particular sports fiction, acknowledges the importance of sports in our lives and in our culture, where the competitive arena offers metaphors that bring into sharp focus the ethical and existential challenges we face as individuals and as a nation. Great sports stories pass into the collective memory of America and shape future generations with their heroic or didactic or cautionary lore.
This year's inaugural prizewinner is Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. Fountain's novel exemplifies great writing and storytelling, and it is a story for our time. Fountain turns his lens on one aspect of our love of sports, illuminating our notions of heroes and how and why they are celebrated.
The story takes place over the course of Thanksgiving Day at Texas Stadium during a Dallas Cowboys football game and follows "Bravo Squad," eight Iraq War heroes sent home for a victory tour. Fountain deftly juxtaposes the War on Terror and real life combat with the faux battles taking place on America's gridirons and TV screens. According to The New Yorker, "Fountain creates a minutely observed portrait of a society with woefully misplaced priorities." Sports Illustrated called it a "vivisection of America's football-industrial complex," concluding that "Fountain's readers will never look at an NFL Sunday, or at America, in quite the same way".
The winner of The Cerulli Award for Literary Excellence in Sports Fiction is chosen by a panel of judges selected by PEN New England's awards committee. Nominations for the Sports Writing Hall of Fame will be invited from distinguished writers, including many of today's most renowned sports writers and journalists.
PEN New England also administers the PEN/ Hemingway Award and other awards honoring literary excellence in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children's literature, nature writing, song lyrics, and more.
SAVE THE DATE
Thursday, December 6, 2012
The Abbey Room, McKim Building
Boston Public Library