Annie Proulx Receives 2017 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

annie proulx receives medal lifetime achievementPictured: Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx will be honored as the 30th recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for her accomplishments and contributions to American letters on November 15.

“I was astonished when first I heard that news,” Proulx told The Associated Press during an e-mail exchange published Thursday (September 21). “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.”

Held in high regard for “her lyricism and wit that captivates readers of all ages,” the medal, along with a prize of $10,000, will be bestowed to the award-winning writer by actress Anne Hathaway, who, if you can remember, starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the film adaptation of Brokeback Mountain in 2005.

anne hathaway brokeback mountain movie
Actress Anne Hathaway stars as Lureen Newsome Twist in Brokeback Mountain

At the 78th Academy Awards, Brokeback Mountain received eight Oscar nominations (the most that year), claiming Academy Awards in three categories: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. In 2001, another of Proulx’s works, a story collection entitled The Shipping News, which earned her the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1994, was also reworked for a film, featuring actresses Judi Dench and Julianne Moore.

Past honorary medalists have included Toni Morrison, Joan Didion, and Stephen King.

Despite popular conception, Proulx reserves the fact that literary prizes are not the end all of an artist’s craft: “It is true that I have noticed awards sometimes affect writers negatively by encouraging them to weigh their succeeding works on a scale of notability rather than intrinsic verities in the work itself,” the author remarked. “That’s badly put: I feel writing the thing on the worktable should have the focus, and that awards should come like shifts in a veering wind, as gratifying surprises.”

The National Book Foundation will recognize Proulx with the honor at a dinner in Manhattan, New York, in which other literary prizes will be presented.

See the 2017 National Book Awards longlist for Young People’s Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction.

What do you think of Annie Proulx receiving this year’s honorary medal?

Tell us some of your favorite works by the author in the comments below!

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