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Alumna Meghan Kenny Shortlisted for Major Literary Award

Head shot of Meghan Kenny

Meghan Kenny is a finalist for a 2019 PEN American Literary Award in the “exceptional debut novel published in 2018” category for her novel “The Driest Season.”

The novel, published by W. W. Norton and Co., is based on Kenny’s award-winning short story of the same title. Set in Wisconsin during World War II, the novel tells the story of Cielle, a teenager, who finds her father hanging in the family barn on a summer afternoon. A dark secret begins to unravel, threatening her family’s livelihood.

Kenny is a member of the first graduating class of Boise State’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing.

“I’m absolutely thrilled for Meghan,” said Mitch Wieland, professor of fiction. “She’s a wonderful writer who explores love and loss with breathtaking beauty and insight. It’s fantastic news that she’s a finalist for one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards.”

Kenny is competing for the prize with debut novelists Akwaeke Emezi, Ling Ma, Tommy Orange (who will appear at Storyfort 2019 in Boise) and Nico Walker. PEN will announce the winners at a ceremony on Feb. 26 in New York City.

Kenny received her bachelor’s in English and creative writing from Kenyon College. She teaches at Lancaster Country Day School in Pennsylvania, and taught a course on contemporary American writers at Johns Hopkins University’s Master’s in Writing program in 2018.

Her stories have appeared in literary journals including The Gettysburg Review, Cincinnati Review, Hobart and The Kenyon Review. She was awarded the 2005 Iowa Review Award for her story, “The Driest Season,” which was a Pushcart Prize Special Mention, and her story “Heartbreak Hotel” won second place in Glimmer Train’s 2012 Fiction Open. Her short story collection, “Love Is No Small Thing,” was published by LSU Press.

The PEN awards have another Idaho connection this year. Tara Westover, whose book “Educated: A Memoir” tells the story of her untraditional childhood in a fundamentalist family in Idaho, is competing for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award “for a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact.”