Annie Proulx Is Getting a National Book Award Medal for Lifetime Achievement

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Not sure what the EGOT equivalent is for authors, but Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain, and other works, is adding a National Book Award to that Pulitzer and PEN/Faulkner award on her shelf this November.


The Associated Press reports that Proulx’s medal was announced on Thursday, and that Anne Hathaway will be presenting her with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters this Fall. She actually already received a National Book Award for The Shipping News, but that’s just for one book, not for her “impressive lyricism and wit that captivates readers of all ages” in general.

Proulx spoke with the AP, saying she had no idea all this writing was a lifetime of work:

“I was astonished when first I heard that news,” Proulx told The Associated Press during a recent email interview. “I simply had not thought of my various writings as a body of work that might be considered as a contribution to American letters. It almost seemed that I had been negligent in writing what I considered discrete novels and stories instead of shaping a holistic something that might be regarded as a life work.”

Jeez, even the way she reflects on why she’s busy with other things is lyrical as fuck:

“For reasons I have never understood the past has always had a hold on the way I look at events. I am attuned to long, slow change,” she wrote to the AP. “Throughout my life I have slid in and out of gestalt reversals, imaging earlier times for almost every situation, not only when writing, but in the normal course of a day — the Viking presence in L’Anse aux Meadows, the peopled steeps of Chaco, the funerary rites of 19th C. Vermont, the lustrous eyes of unwary pronghorn, standing on the quivering false islands of Okeefenokee, spider-webs in Pacific Northwest autumn forests. If I met you I might briefly imagine you in 18th century clothing or the raiment of Utzi or pharaonic trappings. This habit of thinking/imagining is hard to explain, but it is a kind of automatic juxtaposition of specific present situations and people into the past. I do this constantly, in every social interaction and sometimes write about the past through that channel of imagination.”

Proulx is 82, but it still doesn’t seem like she’s anywhere near done contributing to American letters.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin


I may have lost my burner but that's just like your opinion

(The Shipping News is unreadable, Annie Proulx is overrated, and that whole ‘lyrical’ style that North American writing workshops promote sucks and should be shelved.)