UA professor named literary prize winner
Novelist Padma Viswanathan has been named the 2017 recipient of the Porter Fund Literary Prize.
The Porter Prize is an annual award given to an Arkansas writer who has “produced a substantial and impressive body of work in fiction, non-fiction, poetry or playwrighting that merits enhanced recognition.” Eligibility requires an Arkansas connection.
Viswanathan, 49, who was born in Canada, is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She lives in Fayetteville with her family.
She will be honored at an awards ceremony at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library Darragh Center in downtown Little Rock on Oct. 26. The Porter Prize and the Booker Worthen Literary Prize will be given out in the same evening. The Booker Worthen recipient for 2017 has not been announced. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.
The Porter Prize was founded in 1984 by novelist Jack Butler and novelist and lawyer Phil McMath to honor Ben Kimpel. Butler and Mc-
Math were students of Kimpel, a professor of English at UA. At Kimpel’s request, the prize is named in honor of Kimpel’s mother, Gladys Crane Kimpel Porter.
The annual prize, $2,000, has been given to 31 poets, novelists, non-fiction writers and playwrights. including Morris Arnold, who has written several books on colonial Arkansas and who is a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; the late Donald Harington, a novelist; Roy Reed, who covered major civil rights stories for The New York Times; Werner Trieschmann, a playwright; and Grif Stockley, a fiction and non-fiction writer.
Fayetteville playwright and novelist Bob Ford, the 2010 recipient of the Porter Prize, notified Viswanathan of her award.
“It seemed somehow fitting that I received the call about being selected for the Porter Prize while watching my kids play in Central Park: no matter where I go now, Arkansas, my adopted home, exerts an irresistible pull,” said Viswanathan in a news release issued by the Porter Prize organization.
“I didn’t know, when I moved to Fayetteville eleven years ago, whether Arkansas would have me, nor what I would have to offer this place. To be awarded the Porter Prize feels like a response to those questions. I am profoundly honored.”
Viswanathan has a master of arts in creative writing degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Arizona in Tucson, according to UA.
Her first novel, The Toss of a Lemon, was published by Harcourt in 2008. Her second, The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, published in 2014 by Random House, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She is also a journalist and playwright. Her next project is a nonfiction book.