This annual prize, awarded separately for fiction and nonfiction, recognizes recently published works “embodying the spirit of the nation’s heartland.” The prizes are part of the Chicago Tribune’s ongoing dedication to reading, writing, and ideas.
Celebrated for his nuanced language and eminently relatable storytelling, Richard Ford is best known for his trilogy The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land. Alongside Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff, he has been instrumental in defining contemporary American fiction. “I like people. I write about people. So when they want to tell me things, I’m willing to listen,” Ford said in a recent interview. This generosity translates to his characters and imbues Ford’s writing with the empathy that marks his most recent New York Times best-selling novel, Canada, a family drama set in America’s Heartland. Bev and Neeva Parsons, a seemingly mild and unremarkable couple, decide, bewilderingly, to solve their financial woes by orchestrating a bank robbery. The robbery, executed with unsurprising ineptness, results in their arrest, which reverberates in harrowing and haunting ways through the life of their teenage son Dell. With its author’s signature grace and storytelling prowess, Canada is a tour de force. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, Ford is the newly appointed Emmanuel Roman and Barrie Sardoff Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Writing at the Columbia University School of the Arts.
Read the CHF blog about this program by CHF Senior Program Manager Corrina Lesser.
This program presented in partnership with the Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Live! series.
Photo credit: Robert Jordan