The winner of the 2015 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction is Atticus Lish for his novel Preparation for the Next Life. In my post revealing the shortlist for this award in March I included the cover image of this book that the Pen/Faulkner Award are using but I went over to GoodReads to check this book out and found an alternative cover that I think is much more attractive. I’m quite a fan of fiction about interesting characters facing and hopefully overcoming life’s hurdles and this book looks to fit that description.
The people over at Pen/Faulkner described the winning book:
“Atticus Lish’s Preparation for the Next Life is a document of the undocumented and an unlikely love story between a Chinese Muslim immigrant, Zou Lei, and a traumatized Iraq War veteran, Skinner. Skinner comes to New York after a disastrous tour in Iraq, looking for a party, “holding to the idea that if he partied hard enough, he’d eventually succeed in having a good time and would start wanting to live again.” Zou Lei comes to New York fresh from a deportation scare in order to, “stay where everybody was illegal just like her and get lost in the crowd.” When they cross paths in a food court, they fall into a relationship haunted by Zou Lei’s fear of deportation and the symptoms of Skinner’s post-traumatic stress disorder. There is little, it seems, either can do to save the other. Preparation for the Next Life forces readers to look squarely at a host of the failures plaguing contemporary American society. Lish’s prose is dogged and steadfast as he describes his characters’ raw reality and the desperate lives they struggle to lead. Praising the novel in The Nation, Madison Smartt Bell writes: “The members of our polymorphous underclasses most often appear as statistics; in presenting a few of them as individuals, Lish offers his audience a salubrious shock.”
Go over to the Pen/Faulkner website to read more.