Pen American Center

568 Broadway, New York, New York 10012
The 1994 Ernest Hemingway Foundation Special Citation
for Family Night

Family Night is Maria Flook’s first work of fiction, but it is no virgin voyage. With the voice and hand of the most hard-bitten traveler, she leads us bravely into a world of desolation, hopelessness, and eternal longing. She is a Charon of the highways. There is something both ancient and modern about the journey she takes us on. Our sense of the ancient comes from the fact that her characters are driven by what has always driven men and women—our hungers, our yearnings, our need to discover first causes, deathless mysteries, the source of both being and memory. And it is modern in that the search is fragmented, broken up by a world-weariness that denies us all but the most ephemeral of truths; no resting place, no comfort. Her language is sharp enough to sever us us from our own place and our own time, so that we might be delivered wholly into the world she creates. Her characters are memorable, not because their lives are larger than ours, but because Ms. Flook has distilled them to their essences: pure hunger, pure need, pure compassion, pity, obsession. Her narrative is full of all the tensions and releases that make up our very own lives. She asks the right questions, evokes the right moods, lets the eye linger on the right images. Family Night is a fine beginning to what will certainly be a long and distinguished career.

Conferred in Boston
June 16, 1994
Reginald McKnight, Annie Proulx, Joanna Scott