Karen Russell Wins NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award

The Pulitzer Prize committee may have been unable to agree on a 2012 fiction winner, but the three judges of the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award had no such problem. At the 12th annual ceremony held May 14 in the elegant Celeste Bartos Forum at the NYPL’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street, author Karen Russell, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, was awarded the $10,000 prize in recognition for Swamplandia!, her wildly imaginative debut novel about an eccentric Florida alligator-wrestling family struggling to cope with loss. (Accepting the award was Russell’s younger brother as the author currently is in Berlin as a Fellow of the American Academy.) Established in 2001 by Ethan Hawke, Rick Moody, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, and Hannah McFarland, the award celebrates the work of promising writers age 35 and under. The other four finalists, selected by a reading committee of Young Lions committee members, writers, editors, and librarians, were Teju Cole (Open City), Benamin Hale (The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore), Ben Lerner (Leaving the Atocha Station), and Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones). Excerpts of each finalist’s books were read by author Sloane Crosby (I Was Told There’d Be Cake) and actor Billy Crudup (Almost Famous). The Young Lions is a membership group for people in their 20s and 30s committed to supporting the New York Public Library.The group has raised $250,000 this year.

Wilda Williams About Wilda Williams

Wilda "Willy" Williams (wwilliams@mediasourceinc.com) is LJ's Fiction Editor. She specializes in popular fiction and edits the Mystery, Science Fiction, Christian Fiction, and Word on Street Lit columns.