June 11, 2010 – At a ceremony last evening, author Wells Tower was presented with The New York Public Library’s 2010 Young Lions Fiction Award by Library President Paul LeClerc. The ceremony was held in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
Ethan Hawke, one of the founders of the award, emceed the program, and actors Josh Hamilton, Emily Mortimer, Alessandro Nivola, and Mark Ruffalo read excerpts from each of the finalists’ works. The four other finalists for the award were Jedidah Berry (for The Manual of Detection), Katie Kitamura (for The Longshot), Philipp Meyer (for American Rust), and C.E. Morgan (for All the Living).
“In the last 10 years, this award has given over $140,000 for excellence in literature. It is our honor to continue to celebrate and nurture these young writers,” said Library President Paul LeClerc. “In many ways, they represent an antidote to the fleeting nature of American culture.”
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is Tower’s first book. This debut collection of nine short stories astutely explores the bizarre surrealism of everyday American life. A man is booted out of his home after his wife discovers that the print of a bare foot on the inside of his car’s windshield doesn’t match her own. A boy runs off to the carnival after his stepfather bites him in a brawl. Tower’s heroes are misfits and wanderers, their situations absurd and monstrous, but he endows each story with sly humor and sympathy.
“It is an honor to share this with a great group of writers doing great work,” said Tower in accepting the award. “Thanks to the Young Lions for keeping safe what is so important about literature.”
Wells Tower grew up in the exurbs of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is a graduate of Wesleyan University. He received his M.F.A from Columbia University. His writing has appeared in a variety of publications including The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Believer, Oxford American, and T: The New York Times Style Magazine. He is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, the Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review, and a Henfield Foundation Award. He lives in North Carolina and Brooklyn, New York.
The Young Lions Fiction Award was established in 2001 by the Young Lions, a membership group for supporters of the Library in their 20s and 30s. It is the only major book prize that recognizes fiction by younger writers and includes a $10,000 prize for the award recipient and $1,000 for the other finalists. The five finalists were selected by a reading committee of Young Lions members, writers, editors, and librarians.
A panel of three award judges: Amy Hempel, Rick Moody, and last year’s winner Salvatore Scibona, choose the winner for the $10,000 prize.
About the Young Lions
The Young Lions is a membership group for New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s who are committed to supporting the work of the Library. Each season, members enjoy exclusive events that feature young writers and leaders in the arts, politics, business, law, and the media. Through presenting dynamic events and contributing to the General Book Fund, the Young Lions are integral to the life of the Library and its future. Information about the Young Lions group, including events and forums, is available online at www.nypl.org/joinyl or phone 212-930-0885.
About The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award
The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award is a $10,000 prize awarded each spring to a writer age 35 or younger for a novel or a collection of short stories. Established in 2001, this annual award recognizes the work of young authors and celebrates their accomplishments publicly, making a difference in their lives as they continue to build their careers. The Young Lions Fiction Award was founded by Ethan Hawke, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, Rick Moody, and Hannah McFarland. The Award is made possible by an endowment created with generous gifts from Russell Abrams, Nina Collins, Hannah and Gavin McFarland, Ethan Hawke, Stephan Loewentheil, Rick Moody, Andrea Olshan and Jennifer Rudolph Walsh.
Contact: Jennifer Lam 212.592.7708