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John Biguenet - October 2012

John Biguenet

Multitalented novelist, short story writer, playwright, columnist, translator and essayist John Biguenet has been named recipient of the prestigious Louisiana Writer Award for 2012. He was honored by the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana for his extraordinary contributions to the state’s literary heritage exemplified by his body of work.

The Louisiana Writer Award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to the literary and intellectual life of Louisiana. Past recipients include novelists James Lee Burke, Ernest J. Gaines, Shirley Ann Grau, Elmore Leonard, Tim Gautreaux, Valerie Martin and James Wilcox; children’s author William Joyce; poets Yusef Komunyakaa and William Jay Smith; historian Carl A. Brasseaux; and scholar Lewis P. Simpson.

John Biguenet has published seven books, including OysterA Novel and The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories, released in the U.S. by Ecco/HarperCollins and widely translated.

Biguenet’s work received an O. Henry Award for short fiction and a Harper's Magazine Writing Award among other distinctions and his poems, stories, plays and essays have been reprinted or cited in The Best American Mystery Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Best American Short Stories, Best Music Writing, Contemporary Poetry in America, Katrina on Stage and various other anthologies. His work has appeared in such magazines as Granta, Esquire, North American Review, Oxford American, Southern Review, Storie (Rome), Story and Zoetrope.

Named the first guest columnist of The New York Times, Biguenet chronicled in both columns and videos his return to New Orleans after its catastrophic flooding and the efforts to rebuild the city.

Biguenet’s radio play Wundmale, which premiered on Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Germany's largest radio network, was rebroadcast by Österreichischer Rundfunk, the Austrian national radio and television network. Two of his stories have been featured in Selected Shorts at Symphony Space on Broadway, the Long Wharf Theatre and elsewhere. The Vulgar Soul won the 2004 Southern New Plays Festival and was a featured production in 2005 at Southern Rep theater; he and the play were profiled in American Theatre magazine.

Rising Water was the winner of the 2006 National New Play Network Commission Award, a 2006 National Showcase of New Plays selection, a 2007 recipient of an Access to Artistic Excellence development and production grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the 2007 Big Easy Theater Award for Best Original Play. In 2008, Biguenet was named Theatre Person of the Year at the Big Easy Theatre Awards, the region’s major professional theater awards.

Shotgun, the second play in his Rising Water cycle, premiered in 2009 at Southern Rep Theater, with subsequent productions at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Florida Studio Theatre and elsewhere; it won a 2009 National New Play Network Continued Life of New Plays Fund award and was a 2009 recipient of an Access to Artistic Excellence development and production grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Shotgun is published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

Biguenet was awarded a Marquette Fellowship for the writing of Night Train, his newest play, which he developed on a Studio Attachment at the National Theatre in London and which premiered at New Jersey Repertory Company Theater in 2011. Broomstick, currently in development, has had staged readings over the past year at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans and Portland Stage in Maine.

The third play in his Rising Water cycle, Mold, will premiere in 2013 at Southern Rep theater. This ongoing cycle of plays about the flooding of New Orleans has been the subject of articles in American Theatre, The American Scholar and elsewhere.

Biguenet has twice served as president of the American Literary Translators Association and as writer-in-residence at various universities. He is the Robert Hunter Distinguished University Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.