This week, the 42nd John Dos Passos Prize was awarded to novelist and short story writer Patricia Engel (Vida; The Veins of the Ocean; Infinite Country; The Faraway World) 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.”
“Much like the prize’s namesake, Patricia Engel illuminates those dimensions of the human experience that often go unnoticed and unsung,” said Dr. John Miller, associate professor of early American literature in the English department at Longwood and chair of the selection jury, in a press release. “Simultaneously, she imagines America on a scale broader than its national boundaries.”
“Patricia Engel’s fiction plumbs the depths of human consciousness even as it renders visible the complex ramifications of societal realities in the U.S. and across the globe,” said Caro De Robertis, last year’s winner, who also served on the 2023 jury. “The aesthetic scope of her work is vast—from stories to novels, intimate portraits to sweeping epics—yet they are all powered by breathtaking prose, extraordinary vision and an almost preternatural compassion. Her voice is essential to the future of literature.”
Engel will receive an honorarium and medal, and will visit Longwood’s campus for a public event on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.