2007 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers
Janna Levin for her novel A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines (Knopf)
The PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers honors an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a novel or collection of short stories published in 2006—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise. The winner receives a cash award of $35,000, a stipend intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction. The Robert Bingham Fellow is also encouraged to become an active participant in the PEN community and its programs.
The PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowships have been established in memory of Robert Bingham, who died in 1999 at the age of 33, to commemorate his love of literature and his contribution to literary fiction. Bingham was the author of two well-received books (a novel and short story collection, both published by Doubleday) and served as the editor of the avant-garde magazine Open City. Christopher Coake, Carolyn Cooke, Jonathan Safran Foer, Will Heinrich, Matthew Klam, Manil Suri, and Monique Truong have all been Bingham fellows.
Yiyun Li, Will Heinrich, and Maureen Howard
From the Judges’ Citation
“Early in Janna Levin’s brilliant first novel…the reader is asked, ‘Don’t our stories matter?’ The question is tremendous, challenging the premise of fiction itself and the choice of the stories she tells, the lives of two great scientists, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing, their extraordinary achievements and their personal tragedies. Levin, who is a physicist and astronomer, does not exclude her own story. She’s our Virgil who takes us from the Viennese café of 1931 in which Godel, young and untried, has already come upon his incompleteness theory, to the little hut in Bletchley Park where Alan Turing breaks Germany’s Enigma code, and to Levin’s own prospect of this day in New York in the 21st century. ‘Craving an amulet, a jewel, a reason, a purpose, a truth.’ The writer’s voice is always present with authority and wonder, observing, listening in, unafraid of her own inventions. Levin’s imagery is beautiful, often as elegant as solutions in her home field of mathematics, and always as clear as the answer we seek in the proof of a fine story.”
for Whiteman (Harcourt)
for Secondhand World (Knopf)