Category Archives: Christensen

Christensen PEN/Faulkner

Weekend Words: PEN/Faulkner Award

When searching for a new book to read, I’m often swayed by it being given a Booker, a Pulitzer or other award. But what do literary awards really mean? In the case of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, it is the largest peer-juried award in the United States. This year more than 300 works were submitted and the winner is Kate Christensen’s The Great Man. Christensen will be honored with $15,000 at a ceremony next month. Past Faulkner winners which I’ve also blogged about are David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars and Michael Cunningham’s The Hours.

The PEN/Faulkner was founded by writers in 1980, and named for William Faulkner, who used his Nobel Prize funds to create an award for young writers, and PEN, the international writers’ organization. In addition to the annual award, the foundation also promotes a love of literature through a reading series and school programs.


Kate Christensen re: how to paint

“What moved her brush was whatever impulse issued from her core, the spark created by the intersection of whatever was in the room and outside it, in her head and outside it, her mood and the weather, the political climate and the condition of her stomach.”

I love art. Not that I can draw a recognizable apple — but I love looking at paintings and wondering what the artist was feeling when he or she applied paint to canvas. So I re-read Kate Christensen’s sentence in The Great Man over and over looking for better understanding. And I found what I guess I knew — that whatever talent and experience a painter has is overshadowed by the undefinable mood and emotion of that moment. I think I’ll stay an art appreciator.

This novel paints fascinating characters and tells the story of a great painter after his death through the women in his life.