Mythopoeic Awards

Acceptance Remarks — 2023

2023 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

Sacha Lamb, When the Angels Left the Old Country

When the Angels Left the Old Country

My book, When the Angels Left the Old Country, is what I describe as an Ellis-island era immigrant fairytale, combining the founding memories of the American Jewish community with Talmudic folklore. In the novel, an angel and a demon who study talmud together leave their small village in Poland in search of an emigrant girl who’s gone missing on the way to America, and they discover that the streets of that new country are not paved with gold: it’s a complicated place full of magic and mystery and murder.

To be considered for the Mythopoeic Award is a huge honor, and a validation of what I set out to accomplish with this book. I wanted to write a story that pays tribute to classic Yiddish literature—Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Mendele the Bookseller—and to the fantasy literature that I grew up on. The list of past Mythopoeic Award winners is a list of authors whose work shaped my reading and writing life from before I even could read, as my parents played audiobooks in our household from as far back as I can remember. Tolkien, LeGuin, Peter S. Beagle, Jane Yolen, Ursula Vernon more recently—to find myself on a list alongside them is an honor and a joy.

I want to make some thank-yous to those who helped me tell the story I wanted to tell: my agent Rena Rossner, my editor Arthur Levine and assistant Maddie MacZeal, the rest of the Levine Querido team especially Irene who has sent and answered so many emails, and my Lambda Literary fellowship cohort. Of course the biggest thank you goes to the Mythopoeic Award committee. I am deeply touched by your recognition. Thank you.

2023 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

Kelly Barnhill, The Ogress and the Orphans

The Ogress and the Orphans

{Remarks coming soon}

2023 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inklings Studies

Paul S. Fiddes, Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis: Friends in Co-inherence

Williams and Lewis: Friends in Co-inherence

My warmest thanks are due to the Mythopoeic Society for taking notice of my book on the idea of “co-inherence” in Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis. Each writer had an effect on the imagination of the other, and my imagination too has been awakened as I have been drawn into their conversation about the truth to which myth points. I do hope that the publicity given to my book by this award will lead many other readers into sharing in the dialogue between Lewis and Williams, and into finding that they are part of the great network of relationships in the world that the word “co-inherence” invokes. We should all be grateful to the Mythopoeic Society for helping readers far and wide to “co-inhere” — to dwell in the space where life and love abound.

2023 Mythopoeic Award for Myth and Fantasy Studies

Brian Attebery, Fantasy: How It Works

Fantasy: How It Works

Thank you all so much. I know what a strong group of nominees there were this year, partly because they include not only my collaborators on another project but also the first book to appear in the scholarly series I’m editing with Dimitra Fimi and Matt Sangster. On behalf of all the nominees, I thank the Mythopoeic Society for recognizing our efforts and for taking the important part of listeners and interrogators in an essential conversation.

In my last few years of teaching, I started asking students at the end of each semester what they thought they had gained by studying literature. I wanted them to have an answer ready for the job interviewer or the skeptical uncle at a holiday dinner. Contemporary culture is all too ready to dismiss the arts as trivial or time-wasting. I suspect that there are political reasons to cast doubt on critical thinking and empathy, which were two of the most common replies to my question. The book you are honoring is my own answer—my elevator speech, or, more plausibly, my very slow funicular-ride speech. The book’s working title was “Fantasy Matters,” with a double meaning intended. Literature matters; fantasy matters; the Matter of Fantasy, in the medieval sense, matters. The Mythopoeic Award tells me I managed to make that point, and perhaps in a way that people are finding useful or entertaining. I am grateful and honored.

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