On Wednesday, the 41st John Dos Passos Prize was awarded to Uruguayan American writer Carolina De Robertis (The President and the Frog; Cantoras; The Gods of Tango) by Longwood University. The Dos Passos Prize is the oldest literary award given by a Virginia college or university, and every year honors an “American writer who experiments with form, explores a range of voices and deserves more recognition.”
“In clear, precise prose, De Robertis makes audible the beating hearts of people navigating a terrifying world,” said Dos Passos Prize committee chair Brandon Haffner said in a statement. “But De Robertis’ stories aren’t so much interested in exploiting that terror for narrative suspense as they are in interrogating what compassion and resilience look like in the face of confounding policies and state violence.”
“There’s a distillation of narrative and language there that I find particularly impressive,” said Monique Truong, who won the 2021 prize and served on the jury this year. “The prose—so spare and yet emotionally engaging—brings us into a narrative world that verges on fable and myth and yet is damningly just about us humans and our capacity for grotesque cruelty on the one hand and our boundless will to survive on the other.”
De Robertis, who was chosen from a shortlist of four, will receive an honorarium and will read from their work on Longwood’s campus in April.