Earlier this week I learned that A Reunion of Ghosts has received a 2015 Friends of American Writers (FAW) Fiction Award for best novel by a Midwestern early-career author.
This is thrilling and a tad overwhelming. It’s also surprising, both in the sense that one is always amazed when judges respond to one’s work and in the sense that I still don’t quite think of myself as a Midwesterner.
If you’ve read my bio, you know I spent my younger days in New York (born in Brooklyn, NY, raised on Long Island, and attended college in New York City), and spent the next twenty years happily working at a law firm in Rhode Island. I loved the east coast and never imagined I’d live anywhere else.
But in 1996, I accepted an offer from the Iowa Writers Workshop’s MFA program and moved to the Midwest. My husband and I intended to stay there for the two-years it took to get my MFA and then move back to Rhode Island. But upon graduating I received a one-year post-MFA fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and Don and I decided I should accept it. The new plan, then, was that we’d go back home to Rhode Island the next year. But instead I was asked to say on and teach in the University of Wisconsin’s creative writing program and Don and I agreed that I should do it, at least for a while. We still held onto our house in Rhode Island, though.
And then I was offered more courses and more responsibilities and one thing led to another and we sold the Rhode Island house and almost twenty years later, here we still are…
…my point being that if anytime prior to, oh, say, 1998, you’d told me I’d someday be winning awards as a Midwestern author, I’m not sure which part would have struck me as most absurd: the “author” part, the “winning awards” part or the “Midwest” part. But being an author is a dream come true, winning awards is actually beyond my wildest dreams, and living in the Midwest–well, that never factored in any of my dreams and yet the Midwest has turned out to be the place I’ve come to think of as home. (And here’s a shot of my literal Midwestern home. Pretty, no?)
And so, to be honored as a daughter of the Midwest is very sweet in many ways. Thank you FAW. Thank you CWW.