Tim O’Brien wins Pritzker Award
Bill Peterson | On 27, Jun 2013
Tim O’Brien, five-time holder of Texas State’s endowed chair in creative writing, was named the winner of the 2013 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.
The selection of O’Brien, a novelist and short story writer, marks the first time the award has been given to a fiction writer.
“I’m delighted and honored to receive this very special award, which in previous years has gone to such distinguished writers,” O’Brien said. “To find myself in their company is both immensely satisfying and a little daunting.”
Journalist Sir Max Hastings made the announcement for the Pritzker Military Library. Sponsored by the Tawani Foundation, the coveted $100,000 literature award will be presented at the library’s annual gala Nov. 16.
“Tim O’Brien’s fiction about Vietnam, which derives from his own experience as a soldier, is haunting, evocative, and wonderfully inventive,” said Rick Atkinson, recipient of the 2011 literature award. “Yet his writing transcends that particular war in that particular era to illuminate our sense of war universally.”
A combat veteran of the Vietnam War, O’Brien is the winner of the National Book Award, the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the National Magazine Award and the Katherine Anne Porter Award. His works include If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, The Things They Carried and Going After Cacciato.
His short stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories of the Century and in publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Esquire. His work was recognized by the Society of American Historians, who awarded him the James Fenimore Cooper prize for In the Lake of the Woods, which was also recognized as Time magazine’s Best Book of the Year in 1994.
Since 1999, O’Brien has helped students in Texas State’s MFA in creating writing program develop their own storytelling and writing skills.
COVER: Tim O’Brien in Vietnam. HARRY RANSOM CENTER