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Lydia Peelle Named Winner of Anahid Literary Prize

Posted by Weekly Staff on March 19, 2012

NEW YORK—Lydia Peelle is the 2012 winner of the Anahid Literary Prize given by Columbia University’s Armenian Center for her book of short stories Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing. The book was a New York Times Editor’s Choice book and a finalist for the Orion Book Award, and received an honorable mention for the Pen/Hemingway Award. Peelle was the recipient of a Whiting Award in 2010, was recognized by the National Book Foundation as a “5 under 35″ honoree in 2009, and has received numerous fellowships, including the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She received an MFA from the University of Virginia and now lives in Nashville, Tenn.

Peelle is the daughter of Kenneth and Rosemarie Peelle of North Andover, Mass., and the granddaughter of Alice and the late John Bogdasarian of Binghamton, N.Y. Her great-grandparents Manoog and Aznif Bogdasarian, and Boghos and Haiganoosh Taneian, came to the United States from the Ottoman Empire in the years before the genocide of 1915.

The Anahid Prize was founded by an anonymous donor to recognize emerging Armenian American writers for their achievement and their potential. It has been given since 1989 during a year when a book has been deemed worthy of the prize. The prize is now given by the Armenian Center at Columbia University and comes with an award of $5,000. There have been more than a dozen winners in poetry, fiction, playwriting, and screen writing since that time, including Leslie Ayvasian, Peter Balakian, Eric Bogosian, Diana Der Hovanessian, Atom Egoyan, Nancy Kricorian, Patricia Sarafian Ward, and Arthur Nercessian.

The selection was approved on Feb. 9 after the Board of Directors received the recommendation of the Prize Committee, which is comprised of Peter Balakian, Nancy Kricorian, Peter Sourian, and Linda Hamalian.