Thomas M. Keneally Wins the Peggy V. Helmerich

I spend a lot of time announcing the winners of famous national and international literary awards, but today I want to mention a very important award that doesn’t generally make a lot of news. (Even I’m guilty of being a bit slow on this — Laurie Sundborg sent me the information two weeks ago and it kept getting crowded out by the PEN/Dave Eggers and whatnot.)

Be that as it may: Thomas Keneally has won the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award!

An annual award given by the Tulsa Library Trust, the PVH (as those of us in the know refer to it) gives recognition, “on behalf of the Tulsa County community, to internationally acclaimed authors who have written a distinguished body of work and made a major contribution to the field of literature and letters.”

And before you make some crack about recognition by the Tulsa community, consider this: they’re giving Tom (Mr. Keneally and I go way back) a cool $40k — even though he’s not a poet — and also a crystal book. The press release doesn’t say what the title of the crystal book is, but I’m going to recommend that Tom turn the pages very carefully when he reads it.

Past award winners include Joyce Carol Oates, William Kennedy, Margaret Atwood, E. L. Doctorow, David McCullough, Norman Mailer, Eudora Welty, John le Carré, Saul Bellow, Toni Morrison, and John Updike, so Keneally’s in good company.

The award will be officially given at the Tulsa Library on December 7 at a black-tie gala in the stacks (Tom! please don’t turn those pages with gravy on your fingers!) and then again the next day, unofficially, at an event open to the public.

So take that, New York and London and Stockholm. We know how to honor writers in the Midwest, too.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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