Francine Prose to receive Washington University International Humanities Medal Nov. 30

$25,000 prize among largest literary awards in United States

Acclaimed fiction and nonfiction writer Francine Prose, author most recently of Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife (2009), will receive the 2010 Washington University International Humanities Medal Nov. 30.

Francine Prose. Download hi-res image.

Awarded biennally, the medal honors the lifetime work of a noted scholar, writer or artist who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the world of letters or the arts. It is accompanied by a cash prize of $25,000 — one of the largest literary awards in the United States.

“Francine Prose is a grandly prolific and accomplished author,” says Gerald L. Early, PhD, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and director of the Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences, who led the selection advisory board. “Her career covers more than a quarter-century of literary achievement, from books for young adults like After, her novel about the aftermath at Columbine, to her study Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles.”

“She is a very witty, smart and engaging woman who very much reflects the intense intelligence and incisiveness of her work,” Early continues. “We are honored that she is the third winner of the Humanities Medal.”

The medal will be awarded at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, in the university’s Graham Chapel. As part of the ceremony, Prose will deliver a lecture titled “Ten Things Art Can Do For Us.”

Immediately following the talk, a book signing and reception will take place in O’Donnell Lounge, located on the second floor of the university’s Charles F. Knight Center.

All events are free and open to the public, though seating is limited. Graham Chapel is located just north of the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. The Knight Center is located a short walk northwest of Graham.

The event is organized by the Center for the Humanities and the Washington University Libraries. For more information, call (314) 935-5576 or e-mail cenhum@wustl.edu.

Francine Prose

A widely respected author and critic, Prose has published more than 20 books, including the novel Blue Angel (2000), a National Book Award nominee that Early calls a “stunningly brilliant, funny and moving satire of academic life, the writing life and political correctness.”

Other fiction includes the novels A Changed Man (2005), Hunters and Gatherers (1995), Primitive People (1992) and Bigfoot Dreams (1986), as well as the story collection Guided Tours of Hell (1997).

Along with Anne Frank and Caravaggio (2005), Prose’s nonfiction includes Sicilian Odyssey (2003) and Gluttony: The Seven Deadly Sins (2003). Her stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Best American Short Stories, The New Yorker, The New York Times and The New York Observer, among many others.

She is a contributing editor at Harper’s, writes regularly on art for The Wall Street Journal, and is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities.

Anne Frank

With Anne Frank, Prose offers a graceful and compelling reconsideration of one of the most beloved and important books ever to be rescued from obscurity. As she traces its transformation from the jottings of a young girl in a red-and-white checked journal to international best seller, Prose reconsiders how Frank’s diary — and its copious interpretations and misrepresentations over the past 60 years — has both shaped and been shaped by forces beyond its purview.

“Like most of Anne Frank’s readers, I had viewed her book as the innocent and spontaneous outpourings of a teenager,” Prose writes. “But now, rereading it as an adult, I quickly became convinced that I was in the presence of a consciously crafted work of literature.

“How astonishing that a teenager could have written so intelligently and so movingly about a subject that continues to overwhelm the adult imagination,” Prose adds. “What makes it even more impressive is that this deceptively unassuming book focuses on a particular moment and on specific people, and at the same time speaks, in ways that seem timeless and universal, about adolescence and family life.”

About the award

The Washington University International Humanities Medal is awarded biannually to honor the lifetime work of a noted scholar, writer or artist — someone who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the world of letters or the arts.

The medal is accompanied by a cash prize of $25,000, generously supported by David and Phyllis Wilson Grossman. Past winners are Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk in 2006 and journalist Michael Pollan in 2008.

Calendar Summary

WHO: Author Francine Prose

WHAT: Receiving 2010 Washington University International Humanities Medal. In addition, Prose will present an address on “Ten Things Art Can Do For Us.”

WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30

WHERE: Graham Chapel, located immediately north of the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. Reception and book signing to follow in the Charles F. Knight Center’s O’Donnell Lounge.

COST: Free and open to the public.

SPONSOR: Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences and Washington University Libraries

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5576 or cenhum@wustl.edu

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