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Starcherone novel a finalist for Young Lions Award

Buffalo based Starcherone Books has scored another coup on behalf of its brand of cutting edge literary fiction.  Fresh off the bounce in recognition it received from founder Ted Pelton's spotlight interview in the January/February issue of American Book Review, the publisher of independent, innovative fiction and prose has landed one of its titles on the list of finalists for the 2009 Young Lions Award sponsored by the New York Public Library. 
First time novelist Zachary Mason, winner of the 2008 Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction for his The Lost Books of the Odyssey, is one of five authors under age 35 who have been shortlisted for the award, which carries with it a $10,000 cash prize.  The other finalists are Jon Fasman for The Unpossessed City, Rivka Galchen for Atmospheric Disturbances, Sana Krasikov for One More Year, and Salvatore Scibona for The End.  The winner will be announced on March 16, 2009 at a ceremony hosted by Young Lions co-founder and actor Ethan Hawke, held in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City.

Although handicapping literary prizes is a fool's game, Mason's book--which purports to decrypt a fictionalized body of possible source texts, apocrypha, and mock textual analysis surrounding Homer's The Odyssey using a structure and narrative motifs that echo the Greek classic--figures to be one of the favorites for the award.  It has already been compared to such noteworthy examples of the literary form known pseudoepigraphia (i.e., "false writing") as Nabokov's Pale Fire,  Borges's  Universal History of Infamyand Robert Coover's The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.
Mason, a California-based computer scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from Brandeis University and does research in computational linguistic semantics, used his extensive knowledge of advanced mathematics to concoct the elaborate decoding algorithms of the "found" texts.
Founded in 2001 by Ethan Hawke, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, Rick Moody, and Hannah McFarland, the Young Lions Award is given annually to a young author who is making a demonstrable impact on our culture and society through his or her work. Previous winners of the award include Jonathan Safran Foer for Everything is Illuminated, Colson Whitehead for John Henry Days, Monique Truong for Book of Salt, and Mark Z. Danielewski for House of Leaves.

--R.D. Pohl



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