I was thrilled to hear Kate Christensen’s novel The Great Man had won this years PEN/Faulkner award. Christensen is in good company–past winners include Roth and Updike and E.L.Doctorow and DeLilo. Only 4 women have won the award since its inception 28 years ago…
Readers of this blog may recall reading my gushy review of the book posted here early Jan (the piece was originally published in Eclectica magazine). From my review:
The seeming effortlessness of the read is misleading however; this is fine, fine writing. Christensen can carve an image in your mind with a few deft words–a dog who resembles “a mournful miniature hippo,” or a toddler who looks like “an evil little elf,” with “potential for explosiveness in the manic corners of his mouth.” There are lovingly detailed, impossible-to- resist descriptions of food, which left me aglow with lunch ideas for the next few years.
But the prose truly takes off when Christensen is describing a setting. A dinner party, a kitchen with a meal in preparation, a trip to the grocery store are all described with such articulate panache that we are sucked right into the scene, eavesdropping on a neighbor’s revelations about an old flame even as we stir our soup bowls to identify that elusive spice. Somebody buy Christensen a ticket to see the Taj Mahal.
To have my taste affirmed by a discerning judging panel leaves me feeling all smug and satisfied. Seriously, though, do read this book–it’s devilishly clever.
The Washington Post has an interview with the author and more news about the award.