Williams is the author of five short-story collections, four novels, a book of essays, and a guidebook to the Florida Keys (which Condé Nast Traveler described as “one of the best guidebooks ever written”). Williams’s writing first appeared in our Fall 1968 issue with the short story “The Retreat.” In 1973, George Plimpton decided to published her first novel, State of Grace, under the Paris Review Editions imprint; the novel was nominated for the National Book Award when Williams was only thirty. Over the decades, the Review has published nine of her stories (and will publish a tenth this spring).
In our Summer 2014 issue, we interviewed Williams for the Art of Fiction series. Her interviewer, Paul Winner, noted that Williams used a flip phone, typed postcards in lieu of email, had never owned a computer, and wore prescription sunglasses, indoors and out, night and day. She told him that she didn’t have a TV or Internet or air-conditioning at her home in Arizona, and that she owned seven Smith Corona portable typewriters for writing while traveling. She is particularly noted for her writing on the environment. As she said, “Cultural diversity can never replace biodiversity, though we’re being prompted to think it can. We live and spawn and want—always there is this ghastly wanting—and we have done irredeemable harm to so much. Perhaps the novel will die and even the short story because we’ll become so damn sick of talking about ourselves.”
We, however, refuse to be sick of talking about Joy Williams. Her work has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Books Critics Circle Award for Criticism, and she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.
We’re thrilled to add the Hadada to that list: it’s presented annually to a distinguished member of the writing community who has made a strong and unique contribution to literature. Last year’s honoree was Richard Howard; previous recipients are John Ashbery, Lydia Davis, Joan Didion, Paula Fox, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton (posthumously), Barney Rosset, Philip Roth, Norman Rush, James Salter, Frederick Seidel, Robert Silvers, and William Styron.
John Waters—writer, director, “counterculture demigod” (the New York Times)—will present the award. Please join us in April to celebrate Williams’s extraordinary career.