Arna Bontemps Hemenway to receive award April 19

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015
University of Iowa alumnus Arna Bontemps Hemenway alongside the cover of one of his books
Image courtesy of Arna Bontemps Hemenway.

The 2015 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award for Debut Fiction has been won by University of Iowa alumnus Arna Bontemps Hemenway.

Hemenway, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2009 and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts  in creative writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2012, will receive $20,000, a one-week residency in the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series at the University of Idaho’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, and a Ucross Residency Fellowship for a full month at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, a retreat for artists and writers.

Patrick Hemingway, son of Ernest Hemingway, will present the award to Hemenway on April 19  at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Hemenway won for his book of short stories, Elegy on Kinderklavier (Sarabande). His fiction has appeared in A Public Space, Ecotone, The Missouri ReviewThe Seattle Review, and Meridian Literary Review, among others, and has been named a Notable/Distinguished Story of the Year in both the Best American Short Stories and Best American Nonrequired Reading anthologies. He has been the recipient of scholarships or fellowships in fiction writing from the Truman Capote Literary Trust, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the Taos Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He is an assistant professor of English in Creative Writing at Baylor University.

The PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award is given for a novel or book of short stories by an American author who has not previously published a book of fiction. The late Mary Hemingway founded the award in 1976 both to honor the memory of her husband, Ernest Hemingway, and to recognize distinguished first books of fiction. The award is funded by the Hemingway Foundation and PEN New England; PEN New England is a branch of PEN American Center and part of International PEN, the world's oldest international literary and human rights organization.

Two of the judges for the 2015 PEN/Hemingway Award—Chris Adrian and Yiyun Li—are also graduates of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

The Department of English and the Iowa Writers' Workshop are part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.