Stanford English professor named finalist for PEN/Faulkner Award

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Stanford Creative Writing professor ELIZABETH TALLENT has been named a finalist for the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Tallent earned the nomination for her latest short story collection, Mendocino Fire.

The PEN/Faulkner Award is one of the highest honors available to American fiction writers.

Three writers, serving as judges, selected Tallent and four other finalists after considering 500 fictional works by American writers published during 2015.

“Because it is judged by writers, the PEN/Faulkner is a really meaningful award,” Tallent said of being named a finalist. She also said she was honored to be nominated along with fellow finalists JAMES HANNAHAM, JULIE IROMUANYA, VIET THANH NGUYEN and LUIS ALBERTO URREA.

Since 1994, Tallent has been teaching in the Stanford Creative Writing Program.

In a recent interview with Stanford News Service, Tallent talked about teaching as a motivation behind one of the stories in her collection, “The Wilderness,” which explores the relationship between teacher and student.

“It struck me that I hadn’t read anything that was about certain complexities in teaching, about its day-by-day dilemmas and rewards. What you’re trying to do when you’re teaching, the hope that you are able to connect, the ambition to be generous – those positive ambitions about teaching, there was a sort of silence about that in literature,” she said.

“The Wilderness” was anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2013

Other stories in Mendocino Fire have also received awards. “Tabriz,” about an environmental activist who discovers that his new wife is a Republican, won a Pushcart Prize, and “Never Come Back,” about a struggling family in Mendocino, was awarded a PEN/O. Henry Prize.

Tallent has also written a novel, Museum Pieces; three collections of short stories, In Constant FlightTime with Children, and Honey; and a study of JOHN UPDIKE’s fiction, Married Men and Magic Tricks. Her new memoir, Perfectionism, will be published by Harper later this year.

An awards ceremony for the Pen/Faulkner Fiction Award will be held in Washington, D.C. on May 14. At that event, all the finalists will read from their work and the winner will be announced.