Evan Shelby Connell Jr. was an American novelist, poet and short story writer, described by Dorothy Parker as 'a writer of fine style and amazing variety'.
His writing covered a variety of genres, although he published most frequently in fiction. In 2010, he was awarded a Los Angeles Times Book Prize: the Robert Kirsch Award, for ‘a living author with a substantial connection to the American West, whose contribution to American letters deserves special recognition’.
Connell’s novels Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969) are bittersweet, gently satirical portraits of a conventional, unimaginative upper middle-class couple living in Kansas City from the 1920s to the 1940s. The pair of novels was adapted as the 1990 Merchant-Ivory motion picture, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Connell’s 1960 novel, The Patriot, is the story of Melvin Isaacs, aged 17, and his experiences in naval aviation school during the Second World War. Connell’s 1984 biography of George Armstrong Custer, Son of the Morning Star, was a critically acclaimed bestseller. It was adapted as a television film/miniseries in 1991 and went on to win four Emmy Awards.
Evan S. Connell was shortlisted for The Man Booker International Prize in 2009.
Between 2005 - 2015, the Man Booker International Prize recognised one writer for their achievement in fiction.
Worth £60,000, the prize was awarded every two years to a living author who had published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.
The winner was chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there were no submissions from publishers.
The Man Booker International Prize was different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlighted one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In focusing on overall literary excellence, the judges considered a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel.