For press releases issued after to Jan. 20, 2012, see http://newsdesk.gmu.edu/category/press-releases/
Jun. 19, 2008
Media Contact: Tara Laskowski, firstname.lastname@example.org 703-993-8815
Pulitzer Prize-winning author will speak at George Mason University on Friday, September 26
FAIRFAX, Va., June 19, 2008 — Novelist Michael Cunningham has been named the recipient of the 2008 Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts. Cunningham is the author of four novels, including “The Hours,” which earned both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. The Fairfax Prize is presented annually at George Mason University as part of the Fall for the Book Festival, Northern Virginia’s oldest and largest literary celebration.
“Michael Cunningham’s novels have earned both remarkable critical acclaim and a huge popular audience,” said William Miller, executive director of the festival. “The success of his books on these levels speaks to the heart of what our festival is about — building connections between great writers and the wide reading public. We’re honored to have Cunningham join us for our 10th annual year.”
The Fairfax Prize presentation and a talk by the author will close the 2008 festival on Friday evening, September 26.
Since 2003, the Fairfax Prize has been awarded to writers with significant achievements in several of the following criteria: writing and publishing excellent works that contribute significantly to American or international culture; generously giving personal time and talents to the development of literature and literary endeavors; mentoring younger writers; and giving special service to the community of writers, such as editing anthologies or journals that give opportunities for publication to other writers. Previous prize winners have included Tobias Woolf, Joyce Carol Oates, Norman Mailer and Mitch Albom. In 2007, the Fairfax County Public Library Foundation began sponsoring the Fairfax Prize, contributing the prize money and helping to select the recipient.
Michael Cunningham’s most famous book, “The Hours,” was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” and the book draws on Woolf’s work and the days just before her suicide to tell the stories of two other women decades later: Laura Brown, young and pregnant in 1949, planning a birthday party for her husband, and Clarissa Vaughan in the present day, planning a party for her lifelong friend, a poet who’s dying of AIDS. In addition to winning both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, “The Hours” was adapted as a major motion picture, starring Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, with Kidman winning the Best Actress Oscar, and it was also nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, with wins in the categories for Best Motion Picture-Drama and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama.
Cunningham has written three additional novels — “A Home at the End of the World,” also adapted as a film; “Flesh and Blood;” and, most recently, “Specimen Days”— and one book of nonfiction, “Land’s End: A Walk Through Provincetown.” Cunningham also collaborated with Susan Minot on the screenplay for her novel “Evening.” In addition to his books, Cunningham’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review and other publications. His story “White Angel” was chosen for “Best American Short Stories 1989,” and another story, “Mister Brother,” appeared in the 2000 O. Henry Collection. He has received a Whiting Writers Award (1995), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1993), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1988) and a Michener Fellowship from the University of Iowa (1982).
Fall for the Book’s 2008 festival features a wide array of nationally and internationally famous writers, including Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, winner of this year’s Mason Award. Other participants include novelists Richard Bausch, Charles Baxter, Ethan Canin, Ron Carlson, Sue Miller and Porter Shreve; Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning poet C.K. Williams and more than a dozen other poets; memoirists including former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton, Scott Huler, and Honor Moore; historians Harold Holzer and Daniel Mark Epstein; and dozens of other writers across a wide variety of genres.
Fall for the Book takes place Sunday, Sept. 21, through Friday, Sept. 26, on Mason’s Fairfax, Va., campus and at select venues throughout Northern Virginia. All events are free and open to the public. For updated information and a complete list of participants, be sure to bookmark www.fallforthebook.org.
About Fall for the Book
Fall for the Book is presented by the Fairfax County Public Library, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, and George Mason University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Office of University Life, in partnership with WJLA-TV ABC 7, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, The Fairfax County Public Library Foundation, the City of Fairfax, ExxonMobil, the Friends of the Fairfax City Regional Library, Friends of the George Mason Library, Friends of the Reston Regional Library, Provident Bank, the Alexandria Library, the Claude Moore Foundation, CompuTech, Dominion Virginia Power, Harper Wealth Management, Hunton & Williams, Northern Virginia Magazine, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Potomac Bank of Virginia, the Writer’s Center and the George Mason University Business Alliance.
About George Mason University
George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its alumni to succeed in the workforce and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 40 law schools in the United States.