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Robert Olen Butler to Receive 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature at 17th Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler will receive the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature at the 17th Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival, Saturday, October 26, 2013, at the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College. To sign up for the Festival and for more information on details of the day, click this link.

Robert Olen Butler is the author of 14 novels, six books of short stories, and a collection of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream. His first volume of short stories, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The 14 stories are narrated by a different Vietnamese immigrant living in Louisiana, a location chosen because of the similarities of its climate and terrain to their native country. From 1969 to 1971, Butler served in Vietnam, first as a counter-intelligence special agent for the U.S. Army and later as a translator. His work has been translated into 19 languages and he has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two National Magazine Awards in Fiction, and two Pushcart Prizes. His newest novel, The Star of Istanbul, was recently published by Mysterious Press.

The 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival, sponsored by the City of Rockville, Montgomery College, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference, Inc., will also feature “The Lost Trip of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Or, How to Build a Novel from ‘Hole in History,’” a talk by R. Clifton Spargo, author of the recently published novel, Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, which the Washington Post praised as “the one version of the story that resists the temptation to glamorize Scott and Zelda out of their humanity.”

Other events at the Festival include screenings of the 1949 and 1974 films of The Great Gatsby, followed by a panel discussion, “Which is the Greater Gatsby?” comparing the 1974 and 1949 versions with the 2013 Baz Luhrmann film, moderated by Michael Dirda and featuring prominent area cinema experts Murray Horwitz, Bob Mondello, and Jane Horwitz.  Also in the day’s offerings will be writing workshops taught by E. Ethelbert Miller (memoir), James Grady (mystery/thriller), Merrill Leffler (poetry), and Alan Cheuse (fiction); a writing workshop taught by Robert Olen Butler; the announcement of the winners of the annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Contest; and a reading by Robert Olen Butler.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference was founded in 1996 to commemorate the 100th birthday of celebrated American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose paternal ancestors were from Montgomery County and who is buried, along with his wife Zelda and their daughter Scottie, in the cemetery of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Rockville. F. Scott Fitzgerald is a descendent of Francis Scott Key, composer of the National Anthem. Based on the suggestion of a group of Rockville citizens, the event has been sponsored from its inception by the City of Rockville, Montgomery College, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference, Inc.

Since 1996, recipients of the Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature have included many of America’s most distinguished writers, all of whom have been present to accept: 1996: William Styron; 1997: John Barth; 1998: Joyce Carol Oates; 1999: E. L. Doctorow; 2000: Norman Mailer; 2001: Ernest J. Gaines; 2002: John Updike; 2003: Edward Albee; 2004: Grace Paley; 2005: Pat Conroy; 2006: Jane Smiley; 2007: William Kennedy; 2008: Elmore Leonard; 2009: Julia Alvarez; 2010: Alice McDermott; 2011: Maxine Hong Kingston. Taken as a group, Fitzgerald Award recipients have been awarded 11 Pulitzer Prizes.

Speakers, panelists, and workshop leaders at the Literary Conference have also included many distinguished writers, scholars, and persons associated with Fitzgerald. Among the latter have been his granddaughters, Eleanor Lanahan and Cecilia Ross; Frances Kroll Ring, his secretary during his last years in Hollywood; Honoria Murphy Donnelly, the daughter of Fitzgerald’s friends Gerald and Sara Murphy; and Budd Schulberg, a distinguished American writer in his own right (author of the Academy Award-winning screenplay for the film On the Waterfront), with whom Fitzgerald collaborated on an ill-fated film project in the late 1930s.

Writers who have participated as workshop leaders, seminar panelists, or keynote speakers include Jim Lehrer, Kate Lehrer, Susan Richards Shreve, Azar Nafisi, Alan Cheuse, Patricia Browning Griffith, Olga Grushin, Merle Collins, George Pelecanos, H.G. Carrillo, Richard Peabody, Michael Dirda, Henry Allen, E. Ethelbert Miller, Eugenia Kim, Jonathan Yardley, Marie Arana, Evan Thomas, Mary Kay Zuravleff, Gary Krist, Richard Morris, Jay Parini, Laura Lippman, Maureen Corrigan, and A. Scott Berg.

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