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Society News

Literary luminaries gathered at the 2008 Awards Dinner of the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction. Among the guests (l to r):  author Jeffrey Eugenides; honoree Johathan Galassi, president of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux; and author Jonathan Franzen.  Photo by: Christopher Peterson

Literary luminaries gathered at the 2008 Awards Dinner of the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction. Among the guests (l to r):  author Jeffrey Eugenides; honoree Johathan Galassi, president of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux; and author Jonathan Franzen.  Photo by: Christopher Peterson



The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti 

Awarded the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction’s

2008 John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize


Jonathan Galassi, President of Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Honored with Maxwell E. Perkins Award

            New York, December 1, 2008 -- The Mercantile Library Center for Fiction is pleased to announce that Hannah Tinti,
and her novel The Good Thief, is the winner of the 2008 John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize. The annual prize includes a $10,000 cash award and was presented at The Mercantile Library Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in
New York City on December 1.  

            A review from The New Yorker says, “This striking début novel is an homage to old-fashioned boy’s-own adventure stories, and unfolds like a Robert Louis Stevenson tale retold amid the hardscrabble squalor of Colonial New England.”  

            Hannah Tinti grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. Her short story collection, Animal Crackers, has sold in sixteen countries and was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway award. Tinti’s  work has appeared in many publications including Story, Epoch, Alaska Quarterly Review and Best American Mystery Stories 2003. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief of One Story magazine.

            The Good Thief tells the story of twelve-year-old orphan, Ren, who is missing his left hand.  He was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage and remains there until a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be his long-lost brother.  Benjamin’s convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy.  Benjamin introduces Ren to a hardscrabble world filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well.

In addition to the Sargent Award, The Mercantile Library Center for Fiction presented Jonathan Galassi, president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, with The Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction. This award honors an editor, publisher, or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction. Mr. Galassi was chosen in recognition of his career as both an editor and a publisher who has supported and shaped the work of a dazzling array of writers, carrying on the tradition exemplified so well by Maxwell Perkins.

            Founded in 1820, The Merc is one of the oldest cultural institutions in New York City.  With one of the finest fiction collections in the United States, the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction ( is dedicated to celebrating, supporting and furthering the creation and enjoyment of the art of fiction. The Center utilizes all its resources, including its renowned circulating collection and an array of innovative programming, to engage the reading public and build a larger audience for fiction. The Center serves as a vibrant meeting place where prominent and emerging writers come together with readers in conversation, and where writers can work, exchange ideas and share their gifts


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