Young Lions

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tonight, inside the magnificent rotunda of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, the Young Lions members group of the library hosted its annual Young Lions Fiction Award ceremony, which is a $10,000 prize given to an American writer age 35 or younger for a novel or collection of short stories.

The winner was Salvatore Scibona for his novel, "The End," a narrative tracing the progression of characters across seven decades beginning at a "tumultuous Midwestern street carnival" in 1953. The other finalists, Jon Fasman, Rivka Galchen, Sana Krasikov and Zachary Mason, as well as the winner, had excerpts from their works read aloud by Ethan Hawke, Zoe Kazan and Billy Crudup.

above: Ethan Hawke on the makeshift red carpet

above: Paul LeClerc, the President of the NYPL, Billy Crudup, Zoe Kazan and Ethan Hawke

I love attending events like this because it feels like you are part of a writers' community in some small way. A writer's life can be hard and lonely. Plus, the event provides copies of the fiction award finalists' work, which is a nice if you're looking for some thought-provoking new reading.

Then there's that whole celebrity quotient at the Fiction Awards, which you're supposed to keep cool about. I hadn't heard of this Zoe Kazan girl before, but she was such a great reader. Especially for a comedic short story excerpt, where she took some pauses and giggled before composing herself for the next sentence. It was charming. She had on librarian glasses during the reading, too, which I loved.

Back to what I was saying about keeping your cool... I happened to spot Project Runway contestant Austin Scarlett across the room, and when he headed over to our section of the room, I immediately jumped up with my camera and asked him for a shot.

"Did you want to get in the shot, too?" He asked rather sweetly. This threw me off a little, as I wasn't expecting to do one of those cheesy fan shots. [Update: Out of vanity, I had to remove the shot of Austin and myself. I'm wearing a puffy shirt and it's shot at the most unflattering angle. You understand, don't you?]

Only in New York, kids. Only in New York. Sorry for the somewhat dimly lit shots. The lighting was a bit strange tonight.


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