PEN American Center announced today that acclaimed naturalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Edward O. Wilson and actor and conservationist Harrison Ford have joined with PEN to create the PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing.
“It’s wonderful to live in a time of great scientific advances,” said PEN’s president, Anthony Appiah, “but we aren’t doing a great job in communicating the fascination and the challenge of science to a wider public. I’m delighted that E.O. Wilson—a great scientist and a great writer—and Harrison Ford, a committed conservationist with a deep respect for science, have made it possible for us to recognize the best contributions to this important task. Writing about science in a way that all of us can understand is one of the hardest and the most important literary challenges of our day.”
This new award joins the ranks of other prestigious annual prizes given by PEN American Center, which has recognized outstanding voices in literature for over 50 years. The 2010 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony was held October 13, 2010 in New York; Don DeLillo, Susan Choi, Anne Carson, David Mamet, and many others were honored this year. “Our literary awards program is central to our work,” Appiah said, “honoring, as it does, excellence in the many genres of our literary civilization. I’m delighted to say that the program is flourishing.”
The PEN/E.O. Wilson Award will acknowledge new and compelling literary writing about the physical and biological sciences. Beginning in 2011, a winner will be chosen by PEN American Center each fall, and will receive a prize of $10,000. Dr. Wilson and Mr. Ford have provided funding for the first three years of the award’s conferral.
“Dr. Wilson is not only one of the most respected and decorated scientists in the world,” said Mr. Ford, “he is also an eloquent, timeless writer. His words have transcended any single line of research—deeply altering our perspective of the world. It is appropriate that this award is named in his honor.” Best known as an actor, Ford has also played an important role as a conservationist. He is currently an active advisory board member of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Conservation International.
“I am honored to have my name associated with this award,” said Dr. Wilson. “It is important for science to engage people outside of the walls of academia. Authors who are committed to helping the public understand our surroundings in new ways are a rare breed. This is an opportunity to acknowledge their talents.”
Past examples of works that exemplify the quality of writing the award is designed to acknowledge include Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Dr. James Watson’s The Double Helix, Lewis Thomas’s The Lives of a Cell, Christian de Duve’s Guided Tour of the Living Cell, and Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.
21 Oct 2010 2:17 PM