Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Short Story Collection 'Godforsaken Idaho,' by Northwest Author, Shortlisted for PEN Award

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM


If you're looking for the greatest voices in contemporary literature, look no further than the PEN awards. And this year, a Northwest author with strong ties to Idaho is on the shortlist of honorees.

Shawn Vestal, a longtime journalist and editor at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., joins four other writers in the debut fiction category for his short story collection Godforsaken Idaho

Published in 2013, the stories explore the spiritual and physical topography of Idaho—specifically Mormonism, and specifically Southern Idaho.

SHAWNVESTAL.COM
  • shawnvestal.com
"Idaho is so deeply a part of me that I probably don’t even recognize the ways it emerges in my writing," Vestal said in a Q&A posted on his website. "I never set out to write about the state in any direct way—but on some level, I am probably always writing about Idaho, or my childhood and family and everything else that is tied up in Idaho for me. It’s a place I love and a place that drives me crazy and, most of all, a place that I know." 

For more than 50 years, the PEN awards have singled out "the most astounding" writers in the world with 18 awards, fellowships, grants and prizes totaling almost $150,000. The winner of the debut fiction category, announced July 30, will receive the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize of $25,000.

Other authors to make the shortlists include David Sedaris, for his book of essays Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls ($10,000); Taiye Selasi, for her novel Ghana Must Go ($5,000); and Deborah Solomon, for her biography American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell ($5,000).

Vestal also published a Kindle-single essay on his father's criminal history, A.K.A. Charles Abbott. His stories have appeared in Tin House, McSweeney's, The Southern Review and The Florida Review, among others. He teaches in the MFA program at Eastern Washington University.

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