Kathryn Scanlan

Blending documentary and fiction, Kathryn Scanlan fuses mundane experiences with the density of a redemptive vision, capturing the harrowing events of ordinary lives in raw, hard-hitting prose.

Born in Iowa in 1980, Kathryn Scanlan is the author of two novels and one collection of short stories. With echoes of Donald Barthelme and Silvina Ocampo, Sherwood Anderson and Raymond Carver, Scanlan’s rich, sharp, and absurdist works defy traditional genre categorization. Her debut, Aug 9—Fog (2019), narrates a year in the life of an octogenarian woman caring for her dying son-in-law—a chronicle that Scanlan spins from an actual diary she purchased at an estate sale. Her most recent work, Kick the Latch (2022), continues to tread the line between fiction and nonfiction, oral history and the novel, building upon and inventing from interviews that Scanlan did with a real horse trainer. At once expansive and spare, Kick the Latch brings to exhilarating life the world of horse racing: its dim racetrack bars and gritty roadside motels, its fancy boots and the strange language of “grooms, jockeys, trainers, racing secretaries, stewards, pony people, hotwalkers, everybody.” Scanlan, winner of a 2021 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, is an innovator of form, endlessly interested in ordinary life and its extraordinary, if intermittent, heights of beauty, suffering, violence, and pleasure. Scanlan’s work has appeared in Egress, Granta, and NOON, among other places, and her short story “The Old Mill” was selected by Michael Cunningham for the 2010 Iowa Review Fiction Prize. A graduate of the University of Iowa and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

I've been walking around in a daze—in a dream—since receiving the life-changing news of this prize. It's impossible to adequately thank the judges, nominators, and Donald Windham for the generosity and support of this outrageous gift. KATHRYN SCANLAN