Author David Vann has received one of the top literary awards in the world for his “Legend of a Suicide,” a collection of stories with one novella.
A press release from HarperCollins, his publisher, said that Vann would be in Paris on Wednesday to accept a “Prix Medicis,” which is something like France’s version of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.
The Medicis prizes include special categories for essays and foreign authors — the latter “Le Medicis etranger,” being the award given to Vann. His competition included major international figures like Thomas Pynchon, Kate O’Riordan and Per Petterson.
Born in Adak, Vann’s “Legend” is set in southeast Alaska. Under the title “Sukkwan Island,” it has become a best-seller in Europe, with at least nine translations now in print or in the process of completion. HarperCollins reports that it is being made into a film by Chris Meloni.
Vann teaches writing at the University of San Francisco. His next book, “Caribou Island,” is set on the Kenai Peninsula. It will be which will be his first full novel.
The Prix Medicis was founded in 1958 with the intent of drawing attention to authors whose “fame does not yet match their talent.” But several previous winners have been quite famous when they picked up their awards, including Doris Lessing, Umberto Eco and Philip Roth.
The Prix Medicis for best French fiction went to Maylis de Kerangal pour his novel "Naissance d’un pont." The winner in the essay category was Michel Pastoureau.