AMAZON.COM, PENGUIN GROUP (USA) AND HP NAME BILL LOEHFELM WINNER OF AMAZON BREAKTHROUGH NOVEL AWARD
Bill Loehfelm, author of the novel Fresh Kills, an evacuee of Hurricane Katrina and current resident of New Orleans, receives publishing contract worth $25,000
Amazon.com, Inc, Penguin Group (USA) and HP have named Bill Loehfelm the winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the contest in search of the next popular novel. The winner, who will receive a $25,000 publishing contract, was revealed in a ceremony in New York City on April 7th. Loehfelm survived the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and returned to his beloved New Orleans in October of that year. He currently tends bar at Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar by night, and wrote Fresh Kills during the day. Loehfelm said that writing Fresh Kills gave him a purpose and a schedule that allowed him to return to what he calls "the new normal" when he moved back to New Orleans. Born in Brooklyn, he arrived in New Orleans in 1997. He is a former high school English teacher.
In Fresh Kills, the murder of John Sanders, Sr. on a New York street corner reunites his estranged and abused children John, Jr., and Julia. While Julia struggles to keep things together on the home front, Junior, unhinged by his father's death, searches for the killer across the bleak, haunted landscape of his Staten Island hometown. With emotional intensity, crackling dialogue and a heartfelt sense of place and character, Fresh Kills delivers unexpected and profound insights that speak to the soul of its struggling hero, and heralds a breakthrough voice in fiction.
Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times-bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, and a member of the expert panel who read and critiqued all of the top 10 finalists' submissions, said: "Fresh Kills quickly expands past itself, blows away its limiting genre boundaries, and becomes a story of real psychological complexity and emotional realism." The other members of the panel included: literary critic John Freeman, former President of the National Book Critics' Circle; literary agent Eric Simonoff, Co-Director of Janklow & Nesbit Associates; and Publisher Amy Einhorn, of Amy Einhorn Books. Eric Simonoff praised Fresh Kills' "fully rendered characters, crackling dialogue, and profound sense of place," and said of the winner, "Loehfelm is unquestionably the real thing." Fresh Kills is a noir mystery that evokes lower-middle-class life in a bleak town on Staten Island, and its famous garbage dump, Fresh Kills.
The novel will be published by the G. P. Putnam's Sons imprint of Penguin Group (USA) in Summer 2008, and is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com at www.amazon.com/abnawinner .
Panel of Experts
October 1: Contest launch: contestants have 5 weeks to be one of the first 5,000 people to submit their entry.