2004 - Edmund Keeley

Edmund Keeley, who lives in Princeton , N. J., is the author of seven novels, fourteen volumes of poetry and fiction in translation, and nine volumes of non-fiction. His work in fiction, history, and criticism often makes use of the culture and landscape of Greece , where he normally spends his summers. One novel, A Wilderness Called Peace, focused on Southeast Asia and Washington , D. C. A critical study, Cavafy's Alexandria , took him to Egypt . And his first work of historical non-fiction, The Salonika Bay Murder, was an account of the circumstances surrounding the murder of C. B. S. correspondent George Polk during the Greek Civil War. Another work of non-fiction, Albanian Journal: The Road to Elbasan, emerged from a 1995 trip to Albania with a group of American publishers and writers. His latest novels, School for Pagan Lovers and Some Wine for Remembrance are set in Salonika , Greece , before, during, and after the Second World War. His recent works of non-fiction include On Translation: Reflections and Conversations and Inventing Paradise : The Greek Journey, 1937-1947, which focuses on a group of American, British, and Greek writers who created compelling images of Greece during a turbulent decade. This book earned him the 1999 John D. Criticos Annual Prize of the London Hellenic Society as the best book in English on Greece published that year.

Keeley's first novel, The Libation, set in Greece , was awarded the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His second novel, The Gold-hatted Lover, also set in Greece , was written while he was on a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction. He has also written fiction and criticism under grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. His translations of Modern Greek poetry earned the Harold Morton Landon Award of the Academy of American Poets (1980), the First European Prize for the Translation of Poetry awarded by the European Economic Community (1987), and the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation (2000), which honors "a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work". In 1982 he received the Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities, in 1992 he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 1999 he was honored for "exceptional accomplishment" by an Academy Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2001 the President of Greece named him a Commander of the Order of the Phoenix for his contribution to Greek culture. In 2001 he was also elected a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens , and in 2002 Honorary Member of the Hellenic Authors' Society.

A graduate of Princeton and Oxford universities, Keeley taught English, Creative Writing, and Modern Greek literature at Princeton from 1954 to 1994 and served for some years as Director of the Creative Writing Program and Director of the Program in Hellenic Studies. He is currently Charles Barnwell Straut Professor of English Emeritus. On several occasions he has been a resident fellow of the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio , Italy , a resident at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a Fulbright scholar resident in Greece . He served twice as President of the Modern Greek Studies Association, and during 1991-93 as President of PEN American Center, the association of writers. On eleven occasions he was American delegate at International PEN congresses and currently serves as a Trustee of International PEN. Now that he has retired from teaching, he writes most of the day, but he also spends what time he can traveling to old and new places. He has just completed a memoir of his apprentice years in Greece , the U. S. , and England under the title Borderlines, published in a Greek edition in Athens in February, 2004, and due out in the U. S. next fall or winter.




  Fiction in Translation

About the Award | Past Winners | Current Recipient