Professor and Alumna Sigrid Nunez '75 Wins the National Book Award
BY Zoe Contros Kearl, November 15, 2018
The Friend is a story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog. When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.
Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization. A pantheon of such writers as William Faulkner, Marianne Moore, Ralph Ellison, John Cheever, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Robert Lowell, Walker Percy, John Updike, Katherine Anne Porter, Norman Mailer, Lillian Hellman, Elizabeth Bishop, Saul Bellow, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich, Thomas Pynchon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Alice Walker, Charles Johnson, E. Annie Proulx, and Colum McCann have all won the Award. In 2017, The New York Times counted the National Book Award, together with the Man Booker Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature, as “the world’s most prestigious literary prizes.”
Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and, most recently, The Friend. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Sigrid’s honors and awards include a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature. She lives in New York City.