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2013 Chautauqua Prize awarded to Timothy Egan for nonfiction book

July 12, 2013
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

CHAUTAUQUA - Chautauqua Institution is delighted to announce "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher" by Timothy Egan as the 2013 winner of The Chautauqua Prize.

As author of the winning book, Egan receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua, a not-for-profit educational and cultural center in southwestern New York State. He will host a public reading and book signing on Wednesday, July 10 on the Institution grounds.

"Given the history of Chautauqua, and its role as a summer retreat for lovers of history, art, brisk argument and the written word, I couldn't be more thrilled to be a small part of this," Egan said. "You've helped to give the subject of my book, the American Indian photographer Edward Curtis, a bit of a renaissance."

In addition, Egan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The New York Times and the best-selling author of six books.

Now in its second year, The Chautauqua Prize is a national prize celebrating a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts.

"Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher" is a nonfiction account of Edward Curtis' early-20th-century quest to document the lives of 80 American Indian tribes. Chautauqua Prize reviewers described the book as "compelling" and "exhaustive," and noted Egan, who won the 2006 National Book Award for "The Worst Hard Time," "captures in language what Curtis expresses in photography."

"Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher" was chosen from a finalist shortlist including five other outstanding titles - "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" by Ben Fountain, "The Presidents Club" by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, "Devil in the Grove" by Gilbert King, "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller and "The Names of Things" by John Colman Wood.

Chautauqua Institution received 125 books from 67 publishers as nominations for the 2013 Chautauqua Prize, each evaluated by three reviewers representing a panel of Chautauquans who are professionally involved with books and the literary arts. Thirty titles received recommendations from at least two of the three reviewers and advanced to the longlist stage. A three-person, independent, anonymous jury chose the finalists and winner.

The hallmark of The Chautauqua Prize is its focus not only on the literary quality or the writing, but on the reading experience as judged by thoughtful, experienced Chautauqua readers.

With a history steeped in the literary arts, Chautauqua Institution is home to the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, founded in 1878, which honors nine outstanding books of fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry every summer. "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher" will count toward members' reading lists, ensuring continued readership by thousands of active readers.

Further literary arts programming at Chautauqua includes summer-long interaction of published and aspiring writers at the Chautauqua Writers' Center, the intensive workshops of the nationally recognized Chautauqua Writers' Festival and lectures by prominent authors on the art and craft of writing.

The preeminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution is a 139-year-old community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit Chautauqua and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages - all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village.

Details on The Chautauqua Prize are available online at Books published in 2013 will be accepted as submissions for the 2014 prize beginning Sept. 9.



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