Winnsboro, S.C., native Jack Livings has been awarded the 2015 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for The Dog, a collection of short stories. The prize honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $25,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction. The winner is also encouraged to become an active participant in the PEN community and its programs.
From the Judges’ Citation:
The stories in Jack Livings’ collection The Dog take place in contemporary China, but they are the opposite of exotic. Livings’ precise, measured sentences draw on an intensity of knowledge which makes a glass factory in Beijing as familiar as any American office, a feat which speaks of long experience and careful research, but also, and more importantly, of a deep curiosity about the vagaries and vanities of human nature, the brutish demands of collective endeavor and the austerity of freedom, and the strange occasions for compassion in societies where corruption and betrayal are the norm. The Dog reminds the reader that fiction need not be autobiographical in order to be honest; it is an investigation, an act of empathy and imagination which brings the world to life.”
The Dog was also named a Best Book of the Year by the Times Literary Supplement, and The New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani included the book as one of her 10 favorites of 2014. Livings’ stories have appeared in A Public Space, The Paris Review, Story Quarterly, Tin House, The New Delta Review, Guernica, Best American Short Stories, and have been awarded two Pushcart Prizes. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He lives in New York with his family, is an editor at Time, Inc. and is at work on a novel.
Read the New York Times book review.
Read an interview with Livings from August 2014.