Saroyan Prize awarded to Vassar College professor and New York Times writer

Aug. 26, 2014, 10:00 a.m.

Vassar College Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Kiese Laymon and New York Times writer Margalit Fox were recently awarded Stanford’s Saroyan Prize for International Writing. The prize, which is administered every two years by Stanford University Libraries, awards $5,000 to each winner of the fiction and non-fiction categories.

The prize honors author William Saroyan, a Northern California native who won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Academy Award for Best Story in the 1940s. The winners are selected based on how their works reflect the spirit of Saroyan’s own writing style, which Stanford University Libraries describes as defined by “originality, stylistic innovation, […] and a desire to move art in new directions.”

Kiese Laymon’s winning novel “Long Division” is about a young African-American boy in Mississippi. The novel is part fantasy and part satirical social commentary, using time travel and intertwined story lines to explore themes such as racism and violence.

The non-fiction winner, Margalit Fox, won with “The Riddle of the Labyrinth,” which tells the story of a professor who spent decades deciphering the inscriptions on ancient stone tablets uncovered by archeologists at the start of the 20th century.

Both books are available in the Stanford Library.

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