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The Prize

A Novel

List Price: $15.95

August 9, 2016 | Paperback | 304 pages | ISBN 9781619027961
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"This sharp-eyed novel of the art world follows the fortunes of a partner in a prestigious New York gallery... The plot is well crafted, carrying the reader to a surprising end." —The New Yorker

Edward Darby has everything a man could hope for: meaningful work, a loving wife, and a beloved daughter. With a rising career as a partner at an esteemed gallery, he strives not to let ambition, money, power, and his dark past corrode the sanctuary of his domestic and private life. Influenced by his father, a brilliant Romantics scholar, Edward has always been more of a purist than an opportunist. But when a celebrated artist controlled by her insecurities betrays him, and another very different artist awakens his heart and stirs up secrets from his past, Edward will find himself unmoored from his marriage, his work, and the memory of his beloved father. And when the finalist of an important prize are announced, and the desperate artists maneuver to seek its validation, Edward soon learns that betrayal comes in many forms, and that he may be hurtling toward an act that challenges his own notions about what comprises a life worth living. A compelling odyssey of a man unhinged by his ideals, The Prize is also an unflinching portrait of a marriage struggling against the corroding tide of time and the proximity to the treacherous fault line between art and money.

JILL BIALOSKY is the author of four poetry collections: The Players; The End of Desire; Subterranenan, a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Intruder, a finalist for the 2009 Paterson Poetry Prize. She coedited Wanting a Child and has written two novels, House Under Snow and The Life Room. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller History of A Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life which was a finalist for the Ohioana Award and Books For Better Life Award. It was also selected as one of Entertainment Weekly’s Best Books of the Year. Her poems and essays have been published in many magazines including The New YorkerThe NationRedbookOthe Oprah MagazineReal SimpleKenyon ReviewAntioch ReviewThe New RepublicParis ReviewPoetry, and The American Poetry Review.  She lives in New York City where she is an Executive Editor and Vice President at W.W.Norton. Learn more at


“This sharp-eyed novel of the art world follows the fortunes of a partner in a prestigious New York gallery who struggles with the memory of his brilliant but volatile father, the tempers of a high-maintenance artist and her competitive husband, the distress of a rocky marriage, and the temptation of extramarital adventure. The novel’s characters are caught in predictable midlife crises—“Do you ever wake up and wonder how you got here?” one asks—but Bialosky deepens our sense of these troubles with well-chosen details, such as the protagonist’s luxury-goods addiction. The plot is well crafted, carrying the reader to a surprising end.” —The New Yorker

The Prize is a graceful, quiet novel that finds its gravitational pull in the dissonance between the transcendence of art and the slog of everyday life. Bialosky has several books of poetry to her name, and her writing glows with insight.” —New York Times Book Review

“Jill Bialosky ushers us inside the complicated lives of artists and those who strive both to represent them and to capitalize on their talents. It’s the kind of intrigue you will read late into the night.” —New York Journal of Books

“Jill Bialosky wears several literary hats; she is a respected and admired editor, poet, and memoirist, as well as a novelist, and the many strengths of The Prize reflect that varied experience. It’s a shapely, well-researched book, written with a poet’s clarity of language and a memoirist’s psychological insight. Best of all, it is a work of novelistic imagination with a fine sense of felt life.” —East Hampton Star

“And for someone whose life is built around finding the significance in the smallest of moments—moments which Bialosky captures with such powerful insight—there is much at stake for him to lose. In the end, after betrayals and loss and sadness, Bialosky asks her hero to consider what he holds most dear. Like Edward feels upon discovering a transcendent piece of art, this book finds that little opening at the edge of your soul and seeps in.” —Kirkus Starred Review

“[A] luminous behind-the-scenes view of the art world… One expects a poet’s prose to soar in fiction, and the author does not disappoint, crafting her own work of art with her evocative, fresh descriptions and her careful observations of how artists transform inspiration into their work.” —Publishers Weekly

“Bialosky… articulates with grace the crass and the sublime as she explores questions of character, art, obsession, ambition, lies, loneliness, and love. This fluently sophisticated and exquisitely pleasurable novel is radiant with precise and sensuous descriptions and intricately laced with discerning and affecting insights into the passion and business of art and the meaning and struggles of marriage.” —Booklist Starred Review

“Accomplished poet and memoirist Jill Bialosky puts her name on the fiction map with her understated novel The Prize… An acclaimed poet with four collections under her belt, Bialosky favors a streamlined vocabulary, each word imbued with clarity and weight. It serves the themes — of the disparity between soulful art and the soulless art world, of the ease with which our time-honored values can be toppled by an event, or a person, or the pursuit of a prize — very well. The Prize is a subdued but haunting investigation of the ways in which modern exigencies can so easily overthrow beauty, purity, and what we believed to be everlasting.” —Bustle

The Prize is a subtle, incisive, and erotically charged exploration of the dark crossroad where art, money, and obsession converge. Jill Bialosky has written a true and dangerous novel.” —John Banville, author of The Sea

“Jill Bialosky brings a poet’s ear for language to this moving, knowing meditation on marriage and art and the emotional costs of a life spent in pursuit of even the worthiest ideals.” —Jonathan Dee, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Privileges

“In The Prize, Jill Bialosky has written an erotically charged story about the contemporary art world suggestive of a Roman a clef, but far more sponsored by a sublime and sympathetic narrative imagination and boldness. The character of Agnes —a brilliant artist— is a deliciously maddening figure who makes Machiavellian strategies of ambition seem like child’s play. Impressively, many of Bialosky’s people can’t seem to stop apprenticing themselves to their worst instincts (to quote Chekhov) and how they reconfigure their lives to fit their delusions of grandeur makes for hypnotic betrayals. The Prize is vividly modern, and in the tensions offered between art and life, timeless. Yet finally, Bialosky’s novel is a kind of old-fashioned love story, with an ending whose bittersweetness is powerfully earned.” —Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist

“Jill Bialosky has written a haunting novel about the gulf between art and the art world – the place where deals are made and souls are lost – but more, about the cost of our choices, our failures, and our silences. Wintry, subtle, unnerving and mysterious in its impact, this book drew me in deeply and really got to me.” —Joan Wickersham, National Book Award finalist and author of The News from Spain and The Suicide Index

“A compulsively readable novel about art: both that on the canvas, and that of finding one’s home in another.” —Elizabeth Berg, author of Open House

“Renowned poet Jill Bialosky has once again turned her penetrating eye to fiction and lucky for us, because here she delves deeply into nothing less then the complexities of art and desire, and their often dangerous interaction with commerce. At its heart, her wonderful new work, The Prize, is tense, romantic, and timely; a novel about passion and betrayal.” —Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life

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