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Dalkey Archive Press honored by National Book Critics Circle

1/24/2011 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts & Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A nonprofit publishing enterprise once described by its founder as “a hopelessly quixotic venture” has been named recipient of the National Book Critics Circle’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

John O’Brien, the founder of the Dalkey Archive Press, based at the University of Illinois, learned of the award Sunday by e-mail from Critics Circle president Jane Ciabattari. The notice arrived “quite out of the blue,” O’Brien said. “Along with the Pulitzer and the National Book Award, this is the highest award given in the United States to either an author or an organization.”

Past honorees include Joyce Carol Oates, the PEN American Center, Pushcart Press, Studs Terkel and U. of I. alumnus William Maxwell.

Dalkey Archive Press – an independent nonprofit organization specializing in literary translations of contemporary fiction – was founded in 1980 in Chicago, and moved to the U. of I. in 2006, working with the school’s Center for Translation Studies.

Martin Riker, associate director of the press, said the press’s partners “share our intellectual and artistic mission and help support it – the foremost of those partners being the University of Illinois.”

The award was announced Saturday at a news conference in New York City, where the Critics Circle named finalists for its 2010 book awards in fiction, biography, autobiography, poetry, criticism and nonfiction. The awards will be presented March 10 at The New School in New York City.

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