John Darnielle ’95 Novel Wolf in White Van Nominated for National Book Award

Wolf in White Van

Claremont, Calif. (September 26, 2014)—Wolf in White Van, the new novel by Pitzer alumnus John Darnielle ’95, has been nominated for a 2014 National Book Award. Published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Wolf in White Van tells the story of a disfigured man who creates a role-playing game that allows strangers to enter imaginary worlds.

Wolf in White Van hit #9 on The New York Times’ most recent best sellers list. In its review of the book, the Times described Darnielle’s novel as “strange and involving.”

“…what drives Wolf in White Van is Mr. Darnielle’s uncanny sense of what it’s like to feel marginalized, an outsider, a freak. He has an instinctive understanding of fetid teenage emotional states and the ‘timelines of meaningless afternoons that ended somewhere big and terrible.’”

As the writer, composer, guitarist, vocalist and creative force behind the Mountain Goats, Darnielle is known for his sometimes dark, often funny, always literary lyrics (“Raskolnikov felt sick; And he couldn’t say why; When he saw his face reflected; In his victim’s twinkling eye”). The New Yorker’s music critic called him “America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist” and a band of avid fans once petitioned to get him named the US Poet Laureate.

Darnielle found another forum for his way with words when he wrote the book Master of Reality about the relationship between a young man locked up in a psychiatric ward and the Black Sabbath album Master of Reality.

In an interview with The New York Times, Darnielle said he wanted to write fiction before he began writing music. “But then I discovered poetry, and that was all I really tried to write for a long time.”

The National Book Award is one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes. Past winners include William Faulkner, Louise Erdrich and Adrienne Rich. National Book Award’s longlist was announced September 18. Finalists will be revealed on October 15 and winners will be named on November 19. The National Book Foundation‘s mission is to celebrate the best of American literature and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.

Darnielle double majored in classical studies and English and world literature at Pitzer College.

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