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National Book Foundation > Author > Annie Proulx
Annie Proulx is an acclaimed author of award-winning and best-selling novels and short story collections, including The Shipping News, Postcards, and “Brokeback Mountain,” was honored with the Foundation’s Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2017 for her exceptional work and significant impact on American literature. More about this author >
A vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary North American family, The Shipping News shows why Annie Proulx is recognized as one of the most gifted and original writers in America today. More about this book >
Annie Proulx was born in Connecticut in 1935 and attended Colby College and the University of Vermont. She graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Vermont in 1969, earning a bachelor’s degree in History. After graduation, Proulx continued her studies, completing a master’s degree and beginning a doctorate at Concordia University. As a graduate student, she published a number of fiction stories in Seventeen. Proulx left academia before completing her doctorate, turning instead to nonfiction writing. Proulx’s first published books were practical manuals on how to grow fruits and vegetables, make cider, and build fences. During this time, Proulx also founded, wrote, and edited The Vershire Behind The Times, a local newspaper for her small town in Vermont.
In 1988, Proulx made her literary debut with her first short story collection, Heart Songs and Other Stories, which explores the lives of rural, small town America, a topic she frequently returns to. Proulx quickly followed up her short story collection with her debut novel, Postcards. In 1992, Postcards won the 13th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, making Proulx the first woman to receive the prestigious award. One year later, Proulx’s second novel, The Shipping News, earned the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. With her short story collections, Close Range: Wyoming Stories; Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2; and Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3, Proulx has dedicated herself to presenting readers with a powerful, introspective glimpse at life in the rural west. In 1997, Proulx’s short story, “Brokeback Mountain,” centered around two cowboys who develop a secret, powerful, life-long bond, was published in The New Yorker, earning her a National Magazine Award and the first of two O. Henry Awards. In 2005, “Brokeback Mountain” was adapted into an Academy Award winning film that Rolling Stone named one of the top 10 films of the decade.
In 2011, Proulx published her memoir, Birdcloud: A Memoir of Place, which provided readers with an astonishing window to Proulx’s remarkable connection with the American west. Best known for her evocative fiction about rural America, Proulx’s writing has an impressive lyricism and wit that captivates readers of all ages. Proulx has received honorary doctorate degrees from Concordia University and the Universities of Maine, Toronto, Vermont, and Montreal.
In her acceptance speech for the 1993 National Book Award, Proulx said, “There’s a point in your life when you quit expecting wonderful and delightful things to happen to you, and I passed that point a long time ago.” Fortunately for millions readers around the world, Proulx has yet to hit that point.
Proulx lives in Seattle, Washington.