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Dybek's 'Magellan' makes ALA's Notable Books List

March 25, 2005

KALAMAZOO--"I Sailed with Magellan," a novel by Stuart Dybek, professor of English at Western Michigan University, is included on the highly selective 2005 Notable Books List of the American Library Association.

ALA Notable Book Awards are made annually to only 26 works of fiction, nonfiction or poetry for adults. This year's list includes some national best sellers, such as Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America," Ron Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton" and "The 9/11 Commission Report," but the awards are not based on commercial success. Books may be deemed notable for a variety of reasons, including exceptional literary merit, expanding the horizons of human knowledge and contributing to solutions of contemporary problems, among others.

This year's Notable Books List contains 11 works of fiction, including Dybek's "I Sailed with Magellan," 13 nonfiction books and two collections of poetry.

"I'm grateful to be part of such good company," says Dybek, "but what makes this honor particularly special for me is that it's an award list selected by the representatives of American libraries. Libraries, as I've said many times, were enormously important in my life and are critical to the life of a democracy, because libraries are about freeing the mind. There's even a section in the story, 'Blue Boy,' in 'I Sailed with Magellan,' that tries to express the relationship between a working class kid and his neighborhood library."

Since its publication, "I Sailed with Magellan" has earned critical praise from a variety of sources. Publisher's Weekly called it "a powerful, cumulative portrait...beautifully written stories [that] teem with aching recollections. They are lyrical odes to wasted lives, youthful desires, vanishing innocence and the transformative power of memory."

One of the short stories in the book, "Breasts," was among 20 stories selected for inclusion in "The Best American Short Stories 2004," the annual anthology published by Houghton Mifflin.

Dybek also is the author of two other collections of short fiction, "The Coast of Chicago" and "Childhood and Other Neighborhoods," as well as two volumes of poetry, "Brass Knuckles" and 2004's "Streets in Their Own Ink." His writing has been anthologized frequently and has appeared in numerous periodicals, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and Poetry.

Among the many honors Dybek has received for his work are a PEN/Bernard Malamud Prize, a Whiting Writer's Award, several O. Henry Prizes, two Pushcart Prizes and the Lannan Literary Award for fiction. He is among a handful of writers to have works published in both "The Best American Short Stories" and "The Best American Poetry" anthologies.

In addition to teaching creative writing at WMU, Dybek has been actively involved with the University's Prague Summer Writing Program and Third Coast literary magazine.

For the complete 2005 Notable Books List and more information, visit the ALA on the Web, <www.ala.org>.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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