CHAUTAUQUA - Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce The Sojourn (Bellevue Literary Press) by Andrew Krivak as the first-ever winner of The Chautauqua Prize.
The Chautauqua Prize is a new national prize that celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts.
"I feel honored to be part of this new tradition at Chautauqua Institution, and to be recognized by a place with such a long-standing commitment to art and literature in America," Krivak said.
As author of the winning book, Krivak receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua, a not-for-profit educational and cultural center in southwestern New York state. He will host a public reading and book signing on Aug. 6, 2012, on the Institution grounds.
The Sojourn was chosen from a finalist shortlist that includes five other titles: All Cry Chaos (The Permanent Press) by Leonard Rosen; Caleb's Crossing (Viking) by Geraldine Brooks; In The Garden of Beasts (Crown) by Erik Larson; We Are Taking Only What We Need (BkMk Press) by Stephanie Powell Watts; and Why Read Moby-Dick? (Viking) by Nathaniel Philbrick.
"We are simply delighted by the jury's decision on the winner and the finalists," said Sherra Babcock, director of Chautauqua Institution's Department of Education, which coordinated the prize selection process. "These six titles represent a remarkably wide cross-section of great modern American literature."
The Chautauqua Prize reviewers called The Sojourn "a novel of uncommon lyricism and moral ambiguity." It tells the story of young Jozef Vinich, uprooted from a 19th-century mining town in Colorado by a shocking family tragedy, as he returns with his father to an impoverished shepherd's life in rural Austria-Hungary. When war comes, Jozef is sent as a sharpshooter to the southern front, where he must survive the killing trenches, a perilous trek across the frozen Italian Alps, and capture by a victorious enemy.
Krivak, the grandson of Slovak immigrants, lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Mass., and teaches in the Honors Program at Boston College. The Sojourn is his first novel.
With a history steeped in the literary arts, Chautauqua Institution is the home of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, founded in 1878 and believed to be the oldest continuous book club in the country. The CLSC honors nine outstanding books of fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry every summer. The Sojourn, while not officially designated as a CLSC selection, will count toward members' reading lists, ensuring continued readership into the future by thousands of active readers.
Further literary arts programming at Chautauqua includes summer-long interaction of published and aspiring writers at the Chautauqua Writers' Center, the intensive workshops of the nationally recognized Chautauqua Writers' Festival, and lectures by prominent authors on the art and craft of writing.
The preeminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution is a 138-year-old community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit Chautauqua and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages - all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village.
Details on The Chautauqua Prize, including submission guidelines for 2013, are online at www.ciweb.org/prize.