David Vann’s debut work of fiction, Legend of a Suicide, is an exceptional book that is difficult to define. An astonishing first novel, it won the 2007 Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction in the US plus a host of other awards and accolades. A university professor, Vann was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University in addition to which he's written for various magazines including Writer’s Digest. Vann is also known for his remarkable memoir, A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea (2005), described as ‘far more than a tale of ruin at sea. It’s also a story of desire and shame, of the struggle to escape our histories and know our dreams... You have to read this book, even if you care nothing about sailing or the sea. Just read it’.
In 2010 Vann took part in our Elsewhere new writing project. You can find his Elsewhere-themed short story Bain de Soleil or listen to him reading the piece on our website. There is also a recording of his 2010 Book Festival event in which he appeared alongside writer Willy Vlautin.
Vann’s novel Legend of a Suicide was in the running for our inaugural Readers’ First Book Award in 2010. Each year, every one of the debut novels, novellas and short story collections appearing in our adult programme is entered into our First Book Award, and the winner is chosen by a public vote enabling readers to champion new fiction by voting for their favourite. Details of which authors are in the running for the award each year are announced here on our website when the Book Festival programme is launched in June.