John Edgar Wideman

1998 Rea Award Winner John Edgar Wideman
Photo: University of Mass

The New York Times
June 4, 1998

A Fact of Fiction

By Lawrence Van Gelder

The $30,000 Rea Award for the Short Story goes this year to John Edgar Wideman, 56, whose collections include Damballah (Avon, 1981), Fever (Henry Holt, 1989), The Stories of John Edgar Wideman (Pantheon, 1992) and All Stories Are True (Vintage, 1993). The Rea Award was established by Michael M. Rea in 1986 to honor a living United States or Canadian writer who has made a significant contribution to the short story form. Mr Wideman, whose previous honors include a PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction and an American Book award for fiction, is an English professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The Litchfield County Times
June 5, 1998

Rea Award Is Made

By Allistair Highet

ROXBURY—The $30,000 Rea Award for the Short Story, the brainchild of former Roxbury resident Michael Rea, has been awarded to John Edgar Wideman, it was announced this week.

The award, one of the most lucrative for short fiction and the only award given for such a body of work, was judged this year by writers Grace Paley, Gina Berriault and Tim O’Brien.

Mr. Wideman, born in Washington, D.C., in 1941, was brought up in an African-American neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where many of his stories take place. Currently a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, he is the author of the novels The Lynchers, Hiding Place and Philadelphia Fire, among others.

Michael Rea founded the short-story award in 1986, “to ennoble the form, to give it prestige.” He died in 1996. The Dungannon Foundation, which oversees the award, is now under the direction of his wife, the photographer Elizabeth Richebourg Rea.

Palm Beach Daily News
June 4, 1998

Author wins award founded by late PBer Rea

By Jan Sjostrom
Daily News Arts Editor

John Edgar Wideman is the winner of the 1998 Rea Award for the Short Story. Michael Rea, a part-time Palm Beach resident who died in 1996, established the annual $30,000 award in 1986.

The award, which is pre­sented by Rea’s Dungannon Foundation, goes to writers liv­ing in the United States or Canada. It is the only literary award in the United States dedicated to the short story.

Among the past winners are Paul Bowles, Joyce Carol Oates and Richard Ford.

Wideman is the first ·black writer to receive the prize, which encourages authors to continue writing in the short story form.

The prize money will buy time to write, Wideman said.

“Certainly, something like this is inspiring because I didn’t expect it,” he said. “Writing is difficult work,. This is one more push to say that somebody’s listening.”

Rea Award winners are nominated and selected by panel of writers. This year’s jurors were Grace Paley, Tim O’Brien and Gina Berriault.

Wideman, 56, sets much of his fiction in Homewood, the inner-city Pittsburgh neigh­borhood where he grew up. He is the author of the short story collections Damballah, Fever, The Stories of John Edgar Wideman and All Stories are True. His novels include A Glance Away, Sent for You Yes­terday, Philadelphia Fire, Hurry Home and Hiding Place.

His previous awards include the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Lannan Literary Fellowship for Fiction and the MacArthur Award. In 1996, he edited the annual anthology The Best American Short Sto­ries for Houghton Mifflin. Wideman is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Publishers Weekly
June 8, 1998

$30,000 Rea Prize To Wideman

John Edgar Wideman has been named winner of the 1998 Rea Award for the short story, an annual prize worth $30,000.

The award, given by the Dungannon Foundation, was established in 1986 by the late Michael Rea to honor and established body of work in short story form, and the winner is chosen by a panel of writers. This year the judges were Grace Paley, Time O’Brien and Gina Berriault, who was last year’s winner.

Wideman is the author of four story collections, as well a seven novels and a memoir. His next novel, Two Cities, is due in September from Houghton Mifflin.