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Elmore Leonard to receive lifetime achievement award from PEN USA

September 30, 2009 |  1:17 pm


Elmore Leonard will receive PEN USA's lifetime achievement award at a December ceremony, the organization announced today. Leonard is the author of 43 novels; his most recent, "Road Dogs," was an L.A. Times bestseller. His fiction -- with swift prose and slick characters -- is often tapped for screen adaptation, notably with "Out of Sight," "Get Shorty" and "Jackie Brown."

PEN USA is the Los Angeles-based professional writers organization, the division of PEN International representing writers west of the Mississippi. At its annual gala, PEN USA presents writing awards in several categories in addition to the lifetime achievement award. The winners for 2009, who will each receive $1,000, are:

Fiction: "A Country Called Home" by Kim Barnes
Creative Nonfiction: "The Soloist" by Steve Lopez
Research Nonfiction:  "Factory Girls" by Leslie T. Chang 
Poetry: "The Skeleton of the Crow" by Seido Ray Ronci
Children’s Literature: "The Underneath" by Kathi Appelt
Translation: "Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin" by Mazine Cerhnoff and Paul Hoover
Journalism:  "Before and After" (Texas Monthly) by Karen Olsson
Drama: "Braided Sorrow" by Marisela Trevino Orta
Teleplay: "Breaking Bad" - "Crazy Handful of Nothin’" by George Mastras
Screenplay: "Milk" by Dustin Lance Black 

Past recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award include a mix of film and literary types: Ray Bradbury, Woody Allen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Betty Friedan, Larry Gelbart, Vaclav Havel, Walter Mosley, Christopher Isherwood, Neil Simon, Jane Smiley, Robert Towne, Billy Wilder and Gore Vidal.

PEN USA's 19th Annual Literary Awards Festival (also known as LitFest), will be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets, which are discounted for members, are also available to the public, as the event serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Vince Bucci / Getty Images