UA pro­fes­sor named lit­er­ary prize win­ner

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS -

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.

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