Edith Pearlman, Published by UNCW's Lookout Books, Wins National Book Critics Circle Award

Friday, March 09, 2012

Edith Pearlman, author of Binocular Vision, the inaugural book from Lookout Books, has won the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction. Lookout Books is the literary imprint of the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Publishing Laboratory.

In her acceptance speech, Pearlman thanked the NBCC for awarding the short story, a form often overlooked. She also praised her publisher, Lookout Books, "who chose me for their debut author." Said Pearlman, "Little presses and little magazines are dedicated to keeping literature alive, and they deserve thanks from every writer; tonight, particularly from me."

Lookout Books has a dual purpose: to publish work by emerging and underrepresented writers, as well as overlooked gems by established writers, and to be a teaching press for students. According to Philip Gerard, chair of the UNCW Department of Creative Writing, about a dozen students worked on Pearlman's book.

"All the projects through Lookout Books are an amazing learning experience," Gerard said.

Pearlman has published more than 250 works in national magazines and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize, and she has published three previous collections. Still, she had not achieved international recognition until the publication of Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories, which was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review the week of its publication and went on to become the first book named winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and The Story Prize in the same year.

"This is historic. This tells us that Lookout Books and The Publishing Laboratory have redefined what a small press can do. And it is a teaching press that benefits the students who have worked on the books from start to finish. Applied learning doesn't get any more applied than this," Gerard said. "This shows that what they are doing in the publishing lab is real; it's not just a pretend press. It is the real thing and is just as valid as what they are doing at large publishing houses."

Binocular Vision is "the first from Lookout Books and a triumph for Pearlman's distinctive storytelling, bringing it to a larger audience" the board of the National Book Critics Circle, a group of 600 book reviewers, said in a statement. The winner of the Story Prize will be announced March 21.

Pearlman was also named the 2011 recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of short fiction and winner of the Wallant Award for fiction considered to have significance for the American Jew.

Binocular Vision includes 18 of Pearlman's award-winning short stories, three never before collected stories and 13 new stories in a volume that takes readers around the world, from Jerusalem to Central America, from tsarist Russia to London during the Blitz, from central Europe to Manhattan and from the Maine coast to Godolphin, Mass., a fictional suburb of Boston. 

For more information on Lookout Books, go to www.lookout.org

Media contact:
Dana Fischetti, media relations manager, 910.508.3127 or
fischettid@uncw.edu