NEW YORK–Author Peter Balakian’s acclaimed memoir–"Black Dog of Fate" has been awarded the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for best Memoir. Balakian’s memoir was cited for its artistic achievement–its complex narrative–its innovative structure–and its elegant and poetic language. The judges were Sidney Offit–Alice Kaplan–and Senton Johnson.
"Black Dog of Fate" is about growing up in the affluent New Jersey suburbs of the ’50s and ’60s and his journey into his family past and the history of the Armenian Genocide. "Black Dog of Fate" was a New York Times Notable Book of 1997 and a "best book of the year" for the LA Times–Publisher’s Weekly–and Library Journal. Publisher’s Weekly called "Black Dog of Fate"A prose masterpiece by an acclaimed poet," and The Philadelphia Inquirer called it "a landmark chapter in the literature of witness."
Balakian will be in Boston on Sunday May 17 as part of a PEN/ New England panel discussion–"Disturbing History: Art out of Atrocity"–5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College–34 Concord Ave. in Cambridge. He will be joined by novelists Marcie Hershman ("Tales of the Master Race"–"Safe In America"–and Askold Melnyczuk ("What Is Told"). On Monday–May 18–Balakian will do a reading and signing at the Brookline Booksmith at 7 p.m.
"Black Dog of Fate" has just been released in paperback by Broadway Books–and Balakian is currently on a 10 city tour. Recently–he has appeared on CNN International News–Christopher Lydon’s NPR show in Boston–and many other radio and TV venues around the country. He will be on C-Span’s "About Books Show" on May 9.
Balakian will receive the prize at the annual PEN American Center Literary Awards reception on Thursday–May 14. The event is hosted by the Book-of-the-Month Club. Arthur Miller will be honored for his lifetime achievement–and Frank McCourt will be the keynote speaker.
Balakian is the author of four books of poems–a book on the American poet Theodore Roethke–and a translation of the Armenian poet–Siamanto. He is Professor of English at Colgate University and lives in Hamilton–New York with his wife and children.