Dan Zevin wins Thurber Prize for American Humor

September 30, 2013
(Copyright Christopher Barth) (Copyright Christopher Barth)

Dan Zevin has won this year’s Thurber Prize for American Humor for his collection of essays “Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad” (Scribner).

The 49-year-old writer has been a commentator for NPR and a columnist for Boston Magazine. He was a finalist for the Thurber Prize once before in 2002 for “The Day I Turned Uncool.”

Even before winning tonight’s award, “Dan Gets a Minivan” was optioned for a TV series by Adam Sandler. The book includes “Some Friendly Advice to the Aloof Hipster Dad at the Playground,” “The Day I Turned into My Father” and other humorous reflections on parenthood.

The $5,000 Thurber Prize is given each year by the Thurber House, a literary organization in the boyhood home of New Yorker writer and cartoonist James Thurber in Columbus, Ohio.

In a statement released today, Thurber judge Lisa Birnbach, c0-author of “The Official Preppy Handbook,” said “I had never heard of Dan Zevin before so he benefited from my being charmed by his book, which I read in one sitting.”

The runners-up for this year’s prize were Shalom Auslander for “Hope, A Tragedy,” a comic novel involving Anne Frank; and Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel for “Lunatics,” their zany novel about dads accused of being terrorists.

The Thurber Prize began in 1996 and calls itself “the nation’s highest recognition of the art of humor writing.”

Previous winners of the prize include David Sedaris, Christopher Buckley and Calvin Trillin. No woman has even been named a winner of the Thurber Prize, though women have been finalists, and women may have been included in winning organizations such as the Onion and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

 

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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