by Allan Kozinn
The New York Times
April 2nd, 2014
Karen Joy Fowler, a novelist known for her science fiction and for stories set in the 19th century, is the winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons), a novel with a contemporary setting. The $15,000 prize, which was announced on Wednesday by the directors of the award, will be presented at a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington on May 10.
Ms. Fowler’s novel focuses on Rosemary Cooke, the 22-year old daughter of an Indiana University psychology professor, whose family was disrupted in the aftermath of a peculiar psychological experiment that Rosemary’s father conducted when she was a child. It was chosen by a panel of three judges – the novelists Madison Smartt Bell, Manuel Muñoz and Achy Obejas – from among more than 430 novels and short story collections by American authors published in the United States in 2013.
“This superb novel is not only comic and smart,” Mr. Muñoz said in a statement, “it packs a surprising emotional punch. Fowler captures an altogether new dimension of the meaning — and heartbreak — of family dynamics.”
The finalists for the award, who will each receive a $5,000 prize, are Daniel Alarcón for “At Night We Walk in Circles” (Riverhead Books); Percival Everett for “Percival Everett by Virgil Russell” (Graywolf Press); Joan Silber for “Fools” (W.W. Norton & Company) and Valerie Trueblood for “Search Party: Stories of Rescue” (Counterpoint Press).