Congratulations to James Wolcott, Winner of the PEN Literary Award for His Essay Collection Critical Mass
James Wolcott, one of Vanity Fair’s most esteemed contributing editors, was today named the winner of the 2014 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for his essay collection Critical Mass,published by Doubleday last October. The accolade couldn’t be more deserved; for more than three decades, Wolcott’s monthly columns (many of which are republished in the career-spanning collection) have cast shrewd, idiosyncratic, and often hilarious scrutiny on topics as varied as the branding of big-name media personalities, the superabundance of superhero movies, the triumph of overweight comedy stars, and the war in Afghanistan. (“Terror on the Dotted Line,” published in January 2002, together with that year’s “US Confidential” and “The Penance of Pirates,” earned the writer an award from the American Society of Magazine Editors in 2003.)
The insatiable cultural critic is also the author of two previous nonfiction books, Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants in 2004 and his 2011 memoir, Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York—serialized in Vanity Fair’s November 2011 issue—and a novel (2001’s Catsitters), and he regularly professes his personal weaknesses for ballet, bird watching, and his cats on his highly- attended blog and Twitter feed.
Even more humbling than Wolcott’s unparalleled acumen and eloquence are his abiding sincerity, his sense of humor, and most of all his dedication to both the written word and the colleagues who are fortunate enough to work with him year after year. To our dear friend: congratulations, and here’s to many more.