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Posts Tagged ‘Terry Southern Prize’

Pictures from Our 2016 Spring Revel

April 8, 2016 | by

Lydia Davis

Our Spring Revel was this Tuesday, and we have the pictures to prove it.

Hundreds convened at Cipriani 42nd Street to honor Lydia Davis with the Hadada Award. She received it from her high school classmate Errol Morris—“We played in the high school orchestra together,” she explained, “and he played the cello, and I played the violin. And I don’t know how well he played the cello, but I know I didn’t play the violin very well. So we were promising young musicians together.” Morris expressed a particular fondness for her essay on translating Madame Bovary, calling it “one of my favorite things ever.”

Davis’s speech was entirely improvised—or nearly entirely. She’d found herself “scrawling little notes in very small handwriting on a jiggling train” to New York, she said. Her husband, Alan Cote, attempted some encouragement, she told the crowd: “ ‘You know, Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the train.’ And I told him, Yes, that was probably easier.”

John Guare took the stage to award Chris Bachelder the Terry Southern Prize for Humor. Bachelder regaled the crowd with a story of the Review’s fact-checking prowess—suffice to say he’ll never again forget which pole the penguins come from. (Hint: not the North Pole.) He told us,

One of the paradoxes of the writing life is that, as you gain experience, you actually have fewer paths forward, and fewer habitable stances, and one stance that I find currently habitable is a kind of grave playfulness. And that’s a stance, among others, that The Paris Review supports and has always supported. And I think you can take that from a guy wearing a suit holding a model airplane.

David Szalay received the Plimpton Prize for Fiction from Rachel Kushner. “He may be new to me, and to the pages of The Paris Review,” she said, “but he’s a fully developed writer, whose wisdom, skill, and precision, whose sardonic wit, all come through wonderfully, leaving no awkward seams of labor or vanity.”

Take a look at the photos below—and we hope to see you next year!

Photos by Clint Spaulding / © Patrick McMullan / Read More »

David Szalay Wins Plimpton Prize; Chris Bachelder Wins Terry Southern Prize

March 8, 2016 | by

Every April, at our Spring Revel—you have your ticket, don’t you?—the board of The Paris Review awards two prizes for outstanding contributions to the magazine. It’s with great pleasure that we announce our 2016 honorees, David Szalay and Chris Bachelder.

David Szalay.

The Plimpton Prize for Fiction is a $10,000 award given to a new voice from our last four issues. Named after our longtime editor George Plimpton, it commemorates his zeal for discovering new writers. This year’s Plimpton Prize will be presented by Rachel Kushner to David Szalay for his novellas Youth, from issue 213, and Lascia Amor e siegui Marte, from issue 215.


Chris Bachelder.

The Terry Southern Prize is a $5,000 award honoring “humor, wit, and sprezzatura” in work from either The Paris Review or the Daily. It’s named for Terry Southern, a satirical novelist and pioneering New Journalist perhaps best known as the screenwriter behind Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider. Southern was a driving force behind the early Paris Review, as is amply demonstrated in his correspondence. This year’s Southern Prize will be presented by the playwright John Guare to Chris Bachelder for his comic masterpiece The Throwback Special, a novel serialized in our past four issues.

Recent winners of the Plimpton Prize include Wells Tower, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Emma Cline; Elif Batuman, Mark Leyner, and Ben Lerner have received the Southern Prize. The Review began awarding prizes to its contributors in 1956. Click here for a full list of past winners, including Philip Roth, David Foster Wallace, Christina Stead, Denis Johnson, and Annie Proulx.

Congratulations to Chris and David from all of us at the Review! We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Revel, on April 5 at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Get Your Tickets to Our Spring Revel

March 2, 2016 | by

Tickets and tables are available now for our Spring Revel, to be held Tuesday, April 5, at Cipriani 42nd Street—please join us for the Review’s annual gala and our biggest night of the year!

This year, we’re honoring Lydia Davis with the Hadada, our lifetime-achievement award. Lydia’s history with the Review began in 1983, when we published her story “Break It Down”; she’s since contributed some of our most beloved stories, including “If at the Wedding (At the Zoo),” “Ten Stories from Flaubert,” and, most recently, “After Reading Peter Bichsel.” James Wood has written that her Collected Stories is “one of the great, strange American literary contributions.” Presenting Lydia with the Hadada will be the filmmaker Errol Morris—her old high school classmate. Read More »

Atticus Lish Wins Plimpton Prize; Mark Leyner Wins Terry Southern Prize

March 3, 2015 | by


Left, Atticus Lish; right, Mark Leyner

Each year, at our Spring Revel, the board of The Paris Review awards two prizes for outstanding contributions to the magazine. It is with great pleasure that we announce our 2015 honorees.

The Plimpton Prize for Fiction is a $10,000 award given to a new voice from our last four issues. Named after our longtime editor George Plimpton, it commemorates his zeal for discovering new writers. This year’s Plimpton Prize will be presented by Hilary Mantel to Atticus Lish for his story “Jimmy,” from issue 210—an excerpt from his novel Preparation for the Next Life

The Terry Southern Prize is a $5,000 award honoring “humor, wit, and sprezzatura” in work from either The Paris Review or the Daily. Perhaps best known as the screenwriter behind Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider, Terry Southern was also a satirical novelist, a pioneering New Journalist, and a driving force behind the early Paris Review. This year’s prize will be presented by Donald Antrim to Mark Leyner for “Gone with the Mind,” a story from our new Spring issue.

Hearty congratulations from all of us on staff!

(And if you haven’t bought your ticket to attend the Revel—supporting the magazine and writers you love—isn’t this the time?)

Win Two Free Front-Row Seats: Ben Lerner in Conversation with Paul Holdengräber

September 12, 2014 | by


The Paris Review has recently published two stories by Ben Lerner, who won our Terry Southern Prize this year: first was “False Spring” (issue 205) and then “Specimen Days” (issue 208). Both are excerpts from his excellent new novel 10:04. If you’ve opened a newspaper or book review in the past month, you’ve likely encountered rhapsodic praise for 10:04. The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Mr. Lerner packs so much brilliance and humor into each episode … this brain-tickling book imbues real experiences with a feeling of artistic possibility, leaving the observable world ‘a little changed, a little charged.’” In The Times, Dwight Garner wrote that Lerner is “among the most interesting young American novelists at present,” and in Bookforum, Christian Lorentzen called 10:04a beautiful and original novel … it signals a new direction in American fiction.” NPR said that it’s “strange and spectacular … Don’t even worry about classifying it; just let Lerner’s language sweep you off your feet.”

And why not let that sweeping happen in person? Next Tuesday, September 16, Lerner will appear at the New York Public Library in conversation with Paul Holdengräber—it’s sure to be an expansive interview, and we’re giving away two front-row seats. (For proof of Holdengräber’s conversational acumen, check out his Art of Nonfiction interview with Adam Phillips, which we published in our Spring issue.)

For a chance to win, retweet our announcement below before three P.M. EST today. We’ll select two winners at random. Bonne chance!


Hodgman on Daniels

April 15, 2013 | by

THE PARIS REVIEW Spring RevelEvery year, at our Spring Revel, we give three honors: the Hadada Prize, the Plimpton Prize, and the Terry Southern Prize. This year, John Hodgman of the New York Times Magazine, the Daily Show, and those Mac ads presented the Southern Prize to J. D. Daniels.

Like the other two honors, the Southern Prize is chosen by our board. Unlike those, it recognizes writing in both The Paris Review and The Paris Review Daily. Click here to see Daniels’s latest piece from the magazine and here for his Web archive.

Good evening.

My name is John Hodgman. It’s my pleasure tonight to hand over this B-52 model airplane, which represents the Terry Southern Prize, awarded each year along with $5,000 to honor work from The Paris Review that embodies the qualities of humor, wit, and sprezzatura, which sounds like a word Lorin Stein made up and put into the Wikipedia to describe himself—an artful nonchalant, carrying himself with a a cared-for carelessness.

I’ve read J. D. Daniels’s letters from Majorca and Kentucky and I agree that they also seem effortless, which makes me furious, as they are often achingly well written.

They’re dispatches, and they feel that way, dashed off travelogues from corners of globe and memory, full of crafty rambling and quick jumps from his current home in the fancy eastern edge of Massachusetts to his first home in Kentucky, where J. D. counts out the strip malls and storefront churches and ghosts of bars lovingly like animals climbing aboard a blighted ark, to the vomit-slicked deck of an actual boat at sea, a pilgrimage he takes to leave both homes behind to fight it out while he watches Ibiza burn up in a wildfire.

And it may seem that in all this sprezzatura that his work is a little nonchalant; you don’t know what all these little flash narratives add up to, but then you’ll get one moment: a memory, say, of Daniels being strangled by his own father, whom he still loves, and the running from and returning to that moment, which he’s done ever since; you see a narrative flash like lightning, spreading quick blue light for a moment over the whole shadowy, tortured territory.

It doesn’t sound very funny, and it’s not very funny. Unless you count the part where J. D. Daniels gets strangled by his own father, which is hilarious; we know this from The Simpsons. And if you’re wondering why he’s getting the Terry Southern Prize for Humor it is because, like Southern, his work is sly, and wicked, and playful, and, most of all, it’s true.

People ask me why is the Daily Show funny and I usually say it’s because of the jokes. Because explaining humor is neither funny, fun, nor possible. But some jokes always work because they break taboos. That’s why dirty jokes work, as Albert Brooks discovered opening for Richie Havens; there’s one word you can say into a microphone that will always win over one thousand drunk Texan Richie Havens fans who hate you, and that word is a miracle word, and that word is shit. But when it comes to the Daily Show, and J. D. Daniels too, the greatest taboo-breaking is simply to say what is true, plainly, and without apology. That joke always works, even when it’s no joke. J. D. Daniels’s letters know intimately that space between the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves when we’re sitting on a bar, and the queasy, daylit truth that awaits us once we are kicked outside into the afternoon sun.

In a recent posting to The Paris Review Daily he wrote, “We know what comedy is: life is increased. Think of Rodney Dangerfield addressing the crowd at the end of Caddyshack: ‘Hey, everybody, we’re all gonna get laid!’” [Dirty joke.] And we know what tragedy is: isolation increases. I used to think that life was about winning everything, Mike Tyson once said, but now I know that life is about losing everything.”

So J. D. Daniels is a plain good writer, but not like every good writer, he is clear, he is also a very funny guy. And when he doesn’t make you laugh, it’s on purpose, and when he does, that’s on purpose, too. What better definition of humor is there?

So it’s my pleasure to offer the Terry Southern Prize to J. D. Daniels of Kentucky, Massachusetts, and the world. Congratulations, to him and to us all.

We’re all going to get laid.