Elizabeth Spencer has been named the winner of the 20th annual PEN/Malamud Award. The accolade recognizes a body of work that demonstrates excellence in short fiction. Ms. Spencer, who teaches writing at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, is the author of seven collections of short fiction, nine novels, a memoir and a play. Reviewing Ms. Spencer’s 2001 collection “The Southern Woman,” Molly Haskell wrote: “Her light touch, cool ironies and subtle class distinctions have enough in common with Henry James or British writers like Elizabeth Bowen and Muriel Spark to unsettle readers expecting the danker moss-laden landscape of deep-Southern fiction. Eudora Welty once compared her to Katherine Mansfield, and the great Canadian short story writer Alice Munro is perhaps a sister under the skin.” The PEN/Malamud Award includes a reading in the PEN/Faulkner reading series at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington and $5,000.
Haskell's critique is right on: there's definitely something un-moonlight & magnolias about Elizabeth Spencer's characters, especially her women. Congratulations, Elizabeth!
(Small correction: Although she did teach creative writing at UNC, she hasn't in many years.)