Short story collection by Lorraine López honored

A short story collection by Vanderbilt fiction writer Lorraine López, a collection described as “an amazingly original Flannery O’Connor/Loretta Lynn collision,” was one of five finalists for the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Homicide Survivors Picnic by Lorraine López, associate professor of English at Vanderbilt, competed with books by Sherman Alexie, Barbara Kingsolver, Lorrie Moore and Colson Whitehead for the award (which Sherman Alexie won).   López and the other three finalists each received $5,000.

The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is the largest peer-juried prize for fiction in America.

“This is an amazing honor,” said López, who teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Vanderbilt. “I have long admired the other finalists and I am thrilled to be in such esteemed company.”

The finalists were honored in May 2010 at the 30th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

“Overwhelmed by book-length stories and storytellers, we three writer-judges had to knuckle down and settle in for some serious summer, fall and winter reading and inner-listening,” said judge Al Young. “We managed to come up with five lingering beauties that freshly express the complex ways Americans believe and behave.”  The other judges were Rilla Askew and Kyoko Mori.

Homicide Survivors Picnic illustrates the lives of men, women, teenagers and children at turning-point moments. The title story follows a single mother as she drives her pregnant teenage daughter and son to a gathering for survivors of murdered loved ones.

Critic Heather Sellers writes: “An amazingly original Flannery O’Connor/Loretta Lynn collision, this collection lets us witness the indomitable spirit and forces us to take pure joy in all we really ever have a chance at: flowed, gorgeous, weird, rollicking, screwed survival.”