Louise Erdrich's "awesome" breadth of work has earned her the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, it was announced today. The award is a lifetime achievement honor and carries with it a $25,000 prize and is presented every two years.
In their citation, judges Zadie Smith, E.L. Doctorow and Edwidge Danticat praised Erdrich's range.
"Some writers work a small piece of land: Louise Erdrich is not one of those writers," they said. "Her work has an awesome capaciousness--each person is a world. For Erdrich, the tale of the individual necessarily leads to the tale of the family, and families lead to nations, while the wound of a national injustice is passed down through the generations, expressing itself in intimate deformations, a heady intertwining of the national and the personal. Yet despite the often depressingly familiar, repetitive nature of so much human business, Erdrich¹s eye is always fresh, her sentences never less than lyrical."
In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Erdrich said, "Getting this award would intimidate the hell out of me if I weren't so excited."
Earlier this year, Erdrich was awarded with the Dayton Literary Peace Prize distinguished achievement award for her body of work. Her novel "The Round House" was the 2012 winner of the National Book Award; "Plague of Doves" was a Pulitzer finalist in 2009, and "Love Medicine," her debut novel, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984. She has also won five Minnesota Book Awards.
Erdrich, 58, lives in Minneapolis and is the owner of Birchbark Books.