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KNOCKEMSTIFF author Donald Ray Pollock wins PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship

I met Don at the Chuck reading in STL last year for Snuff. Great guy, very cool, I loved KNOCKEMSTIFF. Good for you, Don.

Doubleday/Anchor author Donald Ray Pollock has just been named the recipient of the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers for his debut story collection KNOCKEMSTIFF.

The stories, praised as “startling, bleak, uncompromising and funny… as raw as American fiction gets” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and “more engaging than any new fiction in years” by Chuck Palahniuk, center on the residents of a tough Midwestern American town. From the father who pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up body builder, to the psychotic rural recluse who comes upon two siblings committing incest and is compelled to take action, the characters he portrays are as dark as they are unflinchingly, irresistibly real.

The PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2008—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $35,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction. The Robert Bingham Fellow is also encouraged to become an active participant in the PEN community and its programs advancing literature, free expression, and the worldwide PEN community of writers.

The fellowship was established in memory of Robert Bingham, who died in 1999 at the age of 33, to commemorate his support of young writers, his love of literature, and his contribution to literary fiction. The judges for this year’s fellowship were Kathryn Harrison, Janna Levin, and Dale Peck. The other finalists this year were Rivka Galchen for Atmospheric Disturbances (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Aravind Adiga for The White Tiger (Free Press). Past winners include Carolyn Cooke, Matthew Klam, Manil Suri, Jonathan Safran Foer, Monique Truong, Will Heinrich, Christopher Coake, Janna Levin; and Dalia Sofer.