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PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction goes to Sherman Alexie

25th March 2010

Sherman Alexie has won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his short story collection War Dances.

The Native American poet and author saw off competition from Barbara Kingsolver, Lorraine M Lopez, Lorrie Moore and Colson Whitehead to take home the USD 15,000 (GBP 10,000) prize.

Al Young, one of the award's judges, commented: 'War Dances taps every vein and nerve, every tissue, every issue that quickens the current blood-pulse: parenthood, divorce, broken links, sex, gender and racial conflict.'

He also praised the 'rollicking, bittersweet gem of a book' for its coverage of topical themes such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, medical neglect, the impact of marketing and 'war, war, war'.

The PEN/Faulkner Award was established in 1981 and is the largest peer-juried prize for fiction in the US. Previous winners include Philip Roth, John Updike and Ann Patchett.

Alexie, whose novels include The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian and Flight, was expected to grow up with learning difficulties after undergoing brain surgery at the age of six months.

However, he overcame being born hydrocephalic and had read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath by the age of five.

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