David Vann's novel, Dirt is the winner of the SFC Literary Prize and beat out exactly 170 other books to win the $50,000 on Saturday, September 21.
Vann's selection was announced at the Opening Gala of the Brooklyn Book festival held at the college.
Dirt is a novel about a fraught 22-year-old named Galen who struggles with a life of an emotionally dependent mother and intruding extended family while on his own personal quest for transcendence.
Along with Vann there were four other writers who were runners up for the award--Carol Anshaw (Carry the One), Jami Attenberg (The Middlesteins), Tony D'Souza (Mule) and Christopher Tilghman (The Right-Hand Shore).
On September 22 in Founders Hall three of the five authors appeared on a panel moderated by SFC Provost Timothy Houlihan and Peter Cameron, author and one of the Literary Prize judges.
A long list of other authors also appeared at SFC and the surrounding neighborhood throughout the day as part of the Book Festival.
The biannual SFC Literary Prize was created to support mid-career authors and only books that are a third through fifth work of fiction qualify.
"It's a prize that has no parallel really among existing literary prizes and comes at a perfect time in a writer's career," said Jonathan Dee, a member of the jury and winner of the second Literary Prize for his novel, The Privileges. Dee is a staff writer at The New York Times, former editor of The Paris Review, and current professor of graduate writing programs at Columbia University and The New School.
"There's a lot of attention when you make your debut. There's a lot of attention, if you're lucky when you die, but in between sometimes you're a little bit at sea," he continued.
Other jurors for the 2013 Prize included Peter Cameron and Kate Christensen. Cameron's books, including The Weekend, Someday this Pain will be useful to you, and The City of Your Final Destination, have all been made into feature films. Christensen just released her culinary-guided memoir Blue Plate Special and adds it to her repertoire of six novels and numerous contributions to The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, Elle, and more.
SFC's first Literary Prize was awarded in 2009 to Aleksandar Hemon for his collection of short stories titled "Love and Obstacles."
The newest winner, David Vann, was born in the Aleutian Islands and spent his childhood in Ketchikan, Alaska.
His work, including Legend of a Suicide, and Caribou Island, has been translated into 19 different languages.
Vann has also written for the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Financial Times.
He is a former Guggenheim fellow, National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Wallace Stegner fellow, and John L'Heureux fellow.
Vann is now a Professor at the University of Warwick in England and his latest novel, Goat Mountain, was published earlier this month.