Praise-words are the first course of the evening for the Pen/Faulkner Awards.

Seated on the stage at the Folger Shakespeare Library, winner Deborah Eisenberg looked a little jittery and a little dismayed by all the accolades.

“For Eisenberg, an uncompromising artist, each story is an invention of the form,” said writer and judge Laura Furman, as she read her praise for “The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg.”

“As a writer, she does so many things just right. Her dialogue is both natural and expository. Her characters sound as though they are actually talking, yet each speech moves the story along. Her descriptions are never excessive, never set pieces, never occasions for the author to show her prowess. Her settings are at the service of her characters, and of the development and form of the story,” read Furman.

Author Deborah Eisenberg (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

After her introduction, Eisenberg was gracious and self-deprecating. “When I was reading the other books, I thought the judges felt very sorry for me,” the writer said. And then holding her 992 page paperback, she said she wasn’t going to read it all, but chose a short story called “Revenge of the Dinosaurs.”

The finalists were Jennifer Egan for “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” Jaimy Gordon for “Lord of Misrule,” Eric Puchner for “Model Home” and Brad Watson for “Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives.”

Since the timing of the evening coincided with the Kentucky Derby, Gordon spent some time looking for a place to watch the race at the Folger. No easy task in those formal rooms. But she persisted because her story is about the world of horses and she grew up not far from Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore. At the podium, she announced “Animal Kingdom” so everyone knew the Derby’s winner.

After the two course dinner Eisenberg said she loved listening to all the other writers read their work. “I was so nervous. But as I listened I relaxed myself. All the work was so beautiful.”

Told there were sharp observers admiring her black pumps with skyscraper heels and the recognizable red Louboutin soles, she laughed. “When I heard I won this award, I went right out and bought them,” said Eisenberg. “And they really are comfortable.”

Arts Post is confident she kicks them off when she’s at the computer or writing pad.