Cynthia Ozick receives first Strauss Award
On January 19, 1983, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters announced that its first Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Awards would go to Cynthia Ozick and Raymond Carver. Carrying a stipend of $35,000 per year for five years, the awards were among the largest available to American writers.
Though Ozick's first published work was a novel, Trust, published in 1966, the Strauss award was primarily in recognition of her achievement in the art of the short story. At the time of the award, her story collections included The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories (1971), Bloodshed and Three Novellas (1976), and Levitation: Five Fictions (1982). In 1984, the editors of the annual Best American Short Stories called her one of the three greatest living American short-story writers.
Ozick's best-known story is probably The Shawl, published in 1989 and made into a play in 1996. Like most of Ozick's work, The Shawl, which depicts the Holocaust in horrific detail, deals directly with Jewish themes. In other works, Ozick draws on Jewish texts and the Jewish-American experience to write about Holocaust denial, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yiddish, and the tension between nature and civilization, among other themes.
Ozick has been repeatedly recognized as a master fiction writer. In addition to three O. Henry awards, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Ozick won the first Michael Rea Award for lifetime achievement in short fiction in 1986. Her work is frequently published in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and the New York Times Book Review. In addition, she has written numerous novels, including her latest, Heir to the Glimmering World, published in 2004. She is also known for trenchant essays of literary criticism. Her most recent collection of critical essays was The Din in the Head: Essays, published in 2006.
In 2008, Ozick was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award established by Bernard Malamud's family "to honor excellence in the art of the short story."
Sources: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 1019-1023; New York Times, January 19, 1983, February 10, 1983, May 19, 1988; www.reaaward.org/html/cynthia_ozick.html.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Cynthia Ozick receives first Strauss Award." (Viewed on July 25, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/jan/19/1983/cynthia-ozick>.