WMU News

Dolan's book draws top award

March 13, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- "Phoenix: A Brother's Life," the first book by J.D. Dolan, Western Michigan University assistant professor of English, has been named last year's best adult book by the Friends of American Writers Association.

The Chicago literary organization picked Dolan's book as its first place winner from more than 60 submissions of published works either set in the Midwest or written by Midwestern authors. Dolan will receive his award, as well as a $2,000 prize, at the association's annual award luncheon April 11 at the Union League Club in Chicago.

This is the 78th year the organization has given this award, which was established to encourage new authors of fiction and nonfiction. First and second place awards are given for both the best adult and children's books as judged by a committee. Recipients cannot have published more than three books and previous winners include Carl Sandburg, Toni Morrison and Jane Smiley.

"It's very exciting for us to watch what happens to these authors after they receive the awards," says Marcia Spencer, chairperson the adult book award committee. "Many of them go on to write much more and it's interesting to us to see how their works change."

The Friends of American Writers is a literary club comprised of more than 100 members from Chicago and its suburbs. In addition to presenting Dolan with his award at the luncheon, the organization will also present copies of his book to the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Historical Society.

" I'm delighted to receive such a distinguished award," says Dolan. "And it was a complete surprise, which made it even better."

Published last spring, "Phoenix: A Brother's Life" tells the story of Dolan's relationship with his estranged brother and the impact dealing with the brother's lingering death in a burn unit had on the Dolan family. The book was named one of the best nonfiction works of 2000 by the Los Angeles Times, one of the year's 10 best memoirs by the Detroit Free Press and one of the top books of 2000 by Wag magazine.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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