George Mason University alumnus Richard Bausch, BA English ’74, has joined the ranks of a select group of esteemed writers with his acceptance of the 2012 Rea Award for the Short Story. The $30,000 annual prize was presented to Bausch for, according to jurors Stuart Dybek and Richard Ford, crafting stories that are “unstintingly about those subjects we can not afford to ignore: matters of life and death, yes; but chiefly matters of life sustained.”
The author of 11 novels, many of which have received wide recognition and acclaim—The Last Good Time was adapted into a feature film in 1995, and Peace was awarded the 2010 Dayton International Literary Peace Prize—Bausch is perhaps best known for his short fiction. His eight story collections include Something is Out There, The Stories of Richard Bausch, Someone to Watch Over Me: Stories, The Fireman’s Wife and Other Stories, and Spirits and Other Stories.
The Rea Award, given annually to a living U.S. or Canadian writer, was founded in 1986 by Michael M. Rea, a passionate reader, writer, and book collector. According to a press release from Rea’s Dungannon Foundation, the prize is awarded to honor those who have made a “significant contribution to the discipline of the short story form.” The award focuses less on lifetime achievement or an author’s collection of works than on literary power, originality, and influence on the genre.
Rea himself did not participate in the judging process, but chose an annual jury of three notable literary figures to nominate and select a winner. After his death in 1996, the award was continued by his widow, Elizabeth Richebourg Rea. Past recipients of the award include literary giants Eudora Welty, Anne Beattie, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Alice Munro, and Andre Dubus.
Bausch, who was notified of winning the Rea Award on his 68th birthday, has garnered a host of other coveted writing prizes, including two National Magazine Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. In 1995 he was elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and in 1999 he co-edited The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction with RV Cassill. Since Cassill’s death, Bausch remains sole editor of that prestigious anthology.
After graduating from George Mason, Bausch went on to obtain his MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa. He then returned to Mason to teach English and writing from 1980 to 2005, and served as a Heritage Chair of Writing. Bausch is now a professor at Chapman University in Orange, California. His newest novel, Before, During, After, is expected to be released next year.