A Naked Singularity, Sergio De La Pava's almost 700-page novel about a public defender, won the PEN Literary Bingham Prize for a debut work of fiction Wednesday morning. De La Pava first self-published the novel in 2008.
Singularity was miraculously picked up by The University of Chicago Press and published in 2012 after it gained buzz on literary blogs. De La Pava sees himself as outsider to the literary world — his only biographical detail included in Singularity is this: “Sergio De La Pava is a writer who does not live in Brooklyn.” Now, De La Pava has $25,000 and one of the most prestigious awards a debut author can dream of to call his own (and he lives in New Jersey, for what it's worth).
De La Pava is a public defender himself. He told The Wall Street Journal that he does not intend to quit his day job, but that he was flattered by the award: "What I do on a daily basis is very important to me. [PEN] has a social-justice mission, so it's even more meaningful."
Katherine Boo won the PEN Galbraith Award for Nonfiction for Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and Robert Haas won the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for his essay collection What Light Can Do.
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