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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Philip Roth, a member of Bucknell University's Class of 1954 whose best-selling works have received the nation's highest literary awards, will be honored with the Stephen W. Taylor Medal during Bucknell's 158th commencement ceremony in May, Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell announced.
Poet Laureate Charles Simic will address the Class of 2008 during the ceremony at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 18, on the Academic Quadrangle, senior class President Lauren Berninger also announced.
"The University is especially honored to have this opportunity to present the Taylor Medal to Mr. Roth, one of the greatest novelists of our time," Mitchell said. "We look forward to recognizing Mr. Roth for his extraordinary achievements as an author and for the distinguished attention his success has brought to his alma mater."
Established in 1972
The Stephen W. Taylor Medal, the University's most significant award, is given in honor of those who render extraordinary service to the University. Roth will be the 16th recipient since the award was established in 1972.
One of the most celebrated writers of his era, Roth won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for American Pastoral and, in 1998, the National Medal of Arts. In 2002, he received the Gold Medal in Fiction, the highest award of the AmericanAcademy of Arts and Letters.
Roth, the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America, has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a three-time winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award.
In 2007, he won the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, given to a writer whose "scale of achievement over a sustained career … places him or her in the highest rank of American literature."
Roth's books include the best-selling Portnoy's Complaint (1969), Our Gang (1971), The Great American Novel (1973), The Ghost Writer (1979), Zuckerman Unbound (1981), American Pastoral (1997), The Human Stain (2000), and The Plot Against America (2004). His latest book, Exit Ghost, features his alter ego Nathan Zuckerman and was released in October.
Simic, who was named the country's 15th poet laureate by the Librarian of Congress in August, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1990 and held a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant from 1984 to 1989. (Read a Feb. 3 New York Times interview with Charles Simic.)
Described by The New York Times as a writer who juxtaposes dark imagery with ironic humor, Simic emigrated from Yugoslavia to the United States when he was 16. He started writing poetry in English only a few years after learning the language.
A professor emeritus of creative writing and literature at the University of New Hampshire, Simic has authored 18 books of poetry since earning a bachelor's degree from New York University in 1966. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for his book of prose poems The World Doesn't End (1989). His 1996 collection, Walking the Black Cat, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry, and in 2005 he won the Griffin Prize for Selected Poems: 1963-2003. His most recent poetry volume is My Noiseless Entourage (2005).
Simic also writes for The New York Review of Books and is a poetry editor of The Paris Review. His new collection, That Little Something, is due in February.
Contact: Office of Communications
Posted Jan. 22, 2008
Updated Feb. 4, 2008