Roger Rosenblatt to Receive Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement

Roger Rosenblatt
Roger Rosenblatt. Photo credit: JIMI CELESTE/

Internationally acclaimed literary journal The Kenyon Review has selected Stony Brook Southampton Distinguished Professor of Writing and English Roger Rosenblatt as the winner of the 2015 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement. Rosenblatt, who teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program, will accept the award at a gala dinner held in his honor in New York City on Thursday, November 5.

The Kenton Review said of Rosenblatt—the author of bestselling novels, plays, memoirs, and narrative essays, including the award-winning Kayak Morning, and most recently The Boy Detective and The Book of Love—”His essays soar with riffs that are by turns playful and majestic. His lyricism, depth of insight, and wise humor animate his prose with singular grace.”

“I’m very happy with the award,” Rosenblatt says. “But think of the other awards won by members of our program: Julie Sheehan’s Whiting Award and Lou Ann Walker’s McDowell Colony fellowship, to name just two. We’re all lucky to be in one another’s company.”

The Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement honors “careers of extraordinary literary achievement, recognizing writers whose influence and importance have shaped the American literary landscape. It celebrates writers for the courage of their vision, their unparalleled imagination, and for the beauty of their art.”

At the November 5 awards dinner, Rosenblatt will join a distinguished roster of past attendees, including such luminaries as W.S. Merwin, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gloria Vanderbilt, and the late George Plimpton, to name a few.

Rosenblatt is the author of 17 books, five of which have been New York Times Notable Books, and six off-Broadway plays. His one-man show, Free Speech in America, was cited by the Times as one of the 10 best plays of 1991.

At age 28, Rosenblatt held the Briggs-Copeland appointment in the teaching of writing at Harvard University, and at 29 was named Master of Dunster House—the youngest house master in Harvard’s history. In his mid 30s he served as literary editor and was a columnist at The New Republic. He went on to write a column for The Washington Post, for which Washingtonian magazine named him Best Columnist in Washington, before beginning a career writing essays for Time magazine, which won him two George Polk Awards, as well as honors from the Overseas Press Club, the American Bar Association, and others. He gained further renown as the first essayist on the PBS NewsHour, winning both Peabody and Emmy awards.

Since deciding in 2006 to devote himself to writing memoirs, extended essays and novels, Rosenblatt has produced a steady stream of highly regarded works, including his celebrated first novel, Lapham Rising, almost all of which have been national bestsellers. His memoirs include Making Toast, a powerful meditation on the death of his daughter, which appeared originally as an essay in The New Yorker, and Kayak Morning, a further lyrical examination of grief.

Unless It Moves the Human Heart, an exploration of the art of writing based on a class he taught in the Stony Brook Southampton MFA program, was also a Times bestseller. An innovative memoir, The Boy Detective: A New York Childhood, appeared in 2013. And in 2015 he published The Book of Love: Improvisations on a Crazy Little Thing. His latest novel, Thomas Murphy, to be excerpted in The Kenyon Review, will be published in January 2016.

In 2008, Rosenblatt was appointed Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University. Seven colleges and universities, including Kenyon College, have awarded him honorary degrees.

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