CSUN Professor’s Book a Finalist for PEN Center USA Literary Award

August 24, 2017

“Black Sheep Boy,” the chronicle of a young gay man in Louisiana’s Cajun bayou by California State University, Northridge English professor Martin Pousson, is a finalist for a 2017 literary award from PEN Center USA.

The West Coast center of PEN International — the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization — will announce the winners of its literary awards early next month.

Pousson said he was “shocked” when he received word that his book was one of four finalists for the PEN Center USA’s literary award for fiction. The other contenders are “The Association of Small Bombs” by Karan Mahajan, “Sweet Lamb of Heaven” by Lydia Millet and “Lions” by Bonnie Nadzam.

“[‘Black Sheep Boy’] was published by Rare Bird Books, a small independent LA-based press with limited funds for advertising and promotion,” he said. “I self-funded a large part of a limited book tour. There were a couple of early reviews, but none in the regular literary review magazines. Rare Bird submitted the book to PEN—and somehow it was named a finalist.

“The book is very much about defending a queer identity that is both personally and socially queer,” Pousson continued. “It’s about a teenager who pushes against assimilation and conformity and remains an individual, which is also a fight for the Cajun culture and all people who are outsiders. That’s why this award nomination from PEN is so meaningful. It’s an organization that has always stood for and defended those on the outside.” Article Continues