Montana author Kittredge wins Kirsch award |

Montana author Kittredge wins Kirsch award

MISSOULA, Mont. ” William Kittredge, professor emeritus in the creative writing program at the University of Montana, has been named recipient of the 27th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes’ Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement.

The prize is given once a year to a living Western author. Previous winners include Joan Didion, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury and Wallace Stegner.

“I’m very proud of this award,” Kittredge said from his home in Missoula. “It’s reaffirming for a career in which I’ve always gotten my books published but never sold a lot. So it helps me think, maybe I went the right direction after all. It’s nice to know somebody out there is paying attention.”

Kittredge was quoted by the Missoulian in a story Sunday on his selection for the award.

Kittredge first gained prominence in 1987 with the publication of “Owning It All,” a collection of essays. Since then he has written and edited numerous books and anthologies, including “Hole in the Sky” and “We Are Not in This Together.”

Kittredge taught in the University of Montana’s creative writing program until 1997.

Over the years, he has received numerous other prestigious awards for his work, including the Charles Frankel Prize, two Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards for Excellence and the Earle A. Chiles Award. Kittredge also co-produced the film version of “A River Runs Through It.”

“We felt (Kittredge) was important and worthy of this prize for a number of reasons,” said David L. Ulin, book editor of the L.A. Times and a selection committee member for the Kirsch Award. “What I personally found attractive about him as a candidate is his emphasis on nurturing younger writers ” that selflessness and larger vision, and the idea that we’re not just in it for our own aggrandizement but to build a community of writers and, more important perhaps, of readers.”

According to the official citation, the Kirsch Award “honors a living author with a substantial connection to the American West whose contribution to American letters deserves special recognition. William Kittredge is a master storyteller, essayist and influential cultural voice known for his unflinching vision of the hardscrabble landscape of the West and the people who survive and die on it.”

The award, which comes with a $1,000 honorarium, will be presented to Kittredge at a ceremony on April 27 at the University of California-Los Angeles.

“It’s not a profitable weekend, I’m thinking. By the time I get home I’ll have spent that money,” said Kittredge. “But I’m still quite honored to be recognized in this way.”

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