For the second year in a row, a collection of short fiction has won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. It may seem a bit overdue that it is not until 2004 that John Updike wins this award, but the publication by Knopf of The Early Stories: 1953-1975, certainly marks a fitting time to give yet another nod in honor of Updike's contributions to literature.
At 864 pages, The Early Stories collects some 102 stories from the early years of Updike's career. The majority of these stories were first published in The New Yorker where Updike was on staff from 1955-1957. Renowned stories such as "Pigeon Feathers" are included as well as stories that have been long out-of-print prior to publication of this collection.
Born in 1932, Updike is the author of more that 50 books, including twenty novels and numerous collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. Most famous for his "Rabbit" series of which both Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest won Pulitzer Prizes, his fiction has won numerous awards including the O.Henry Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Rosenthal Award, among others. He is a 1954 graduate of Harvard with a degree in English. Currently, he lives in Massachusetts.
The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is one of America's largest peer-juried prizes for fiction, and it bestowed Updike with a $15,000 prize. His book was chosen from among 350 novels and short story collections published in the United States during 2003. Updike, along with four other finalists, was honored during the 24th annual PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony in Washington, D.C. in May 2004. Judges were fellow writers Ron Carlson, Chitra Divakaruni, and Elizabeth Strout; finalists were Frederick Barthelme for Elroy Nights, ZZ Packer for the short story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, Caryl Pillips for A Distant Shore, and Tobias Wolff for Old School.