2009 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
The 2009 award will be given to Richard Brody for Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard (Metropolitan Books).
The PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award is a prize of $5,000 given to a distinguished biography possessing notable literary merit which has been published in the United States during the previous calendar year. The award was established by Rodman L. Drake.
Timothy Noah, René Steinke, and Judith Thurman
From the Judges’ Citation
“Richard Brody’s biography gives us something rare: a genuinely new way to see one of the most influential filmmakers of our time. In Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, Brody reveals an artist perhaps more failed than successful, but one whose failures have borne more fruit than others’ successes. Most of all, this epic biography is a work of great sympathetic imagination, as Brody ingeniously renders the daily texture of a film coming into being, along with the inevitable consequences to Godard and those around him, both during the filmmaking and after a film is complete. What might have presented an obstacle to the biographer—Godard’s insistent, deliberate confusion of his art and life—Brody brilliantly transforms into a narrative structure, and he reveals both the riskiness of Godard’s venture and its rewards. Transcending prejudices and theoretical jargon, with countless interviews and shrewd readings of the films, Brody demystifies this enigmatic, mercurial man, an artist who has come to be emblematic of a certain mid-20th-century idea of difficulty. In lucid, passionately engaged prose, Brody brings wonderful clarity to complex aesthetic concepts, but even more than this, he creates the urgency and drama of these ideas at work in Godard’s life. This book will undoubtedly send readers to the films—either to view some of them for the first time, or to reconsider them in light of Brody’s heroic and fascinating book.”
Jeffrey Meyers for Samuel Johnson: The Struggle (Basic Books)
Stanley Plumly for Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (W.W. Norton & Co.)