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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 20, 2008 @ 7:41 am

    Peter Mathiessen wins National Book Award

    Fiona McCann

    Eighty-one-year-old author and environmental activist Peter Mathiessen has won the National Book Award for fiction for Shadow Country, a one-volume revision of a trilogy of novels that caused a little blogosphere controversy when it was first shortlisted. The argument was whether three novels revised as one could be considered a new book, but the judges stood firm, particularly given that Shadow Country is also 400 pages shorter than the combined novels and does contain new writing. Mathiessen, one of the founders of the Paris Review and a practising Zen monk, is also known for his non-fiction and travel writing. Shadow Country is an 890 page reworking of his own trilogy on the historical figure Edgar J. Watson.

    The other winners, announced at a ceremony in New York last night, were Annette Gordon-Reed in nonfiction, for The Hemingses of Monticello; Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire in poetry; and Judy Blundell in young people’s literature, for What I Saw and How I Lied.

    • nerraw says:

      “caused a little blogosphere controversy.” Is that just another way of saying a few random unimportant people had a moan about it?

      The Snow Leopard by Mathiessen is a fantastic albeit a bit hard going at times.

    • Rick says:

      Matthiessen is a great writer on many fronts, fiction and nonfiction (social-political journalism, nature writing). Shadow Country is very successful as a single volume. I read the individual novels when they each came out in the 90s and found this version compelling (noticed the major overhaul in the middle part, where I’m guessing most of the cutting came from) but it’s the only part that drags a little. The first and third are close to flawless. The recognition is very deserved.


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