Congratulations to Robert Thomas (poetry, ’02) on winning the 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction for his novel Bridge.
From the award ceremony program:
“In Bridge, Robert Thomas constructs, with urgency and crackling, unrelenting energy, a story told with the contradictory self-doubt and wild self-awareness of a bright, sardonic, and potentially self-destructive young woman. Even as we appreciate her tenuous existential dilemma, Alice’s vivid internal construction of an overwhelming worldview in short diaristic episodes seems, in its very creation, to keep her alive. Considering how easily readers might have felt claustrophobic within, or limited by Alice’s point of view—interior, unraveling—it is singularly impressive that Thomas manages—through the beauty of his prose, sophistication of his references, and propulsive energy of Alice’s mind—to connect the reader, and the narrator’s struggle, with the outside world. Although Alice’s beautiful and dangerous estrangement is entirely and selfishly her own, it becomes ours, and teaches us something larger and universal. This novel is an experiential wonder, giddy and joyful reading via the desperate empathy it both demands and models. The digressive, perfectly choreographed role of docent to everyday madness, as played by our heroine, is a brave pleasure in word and sentence, a totally pleasing combination of narrator and authorial, artistic self-control, and vividly evocative self-consciousness.”
Judges’ Statement of Cynthia Sweeney, Melanie Thorne, and Andrew Tonkovich, 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction