UNT professor to work with "English Patient" author in Rolex mentoring program

Miroslav Penkov and Michael Ondaatje
University of North Texas English professor Miroslav Penkov (left) will be mentored by Michael Ondaatje (right), author of The English Patient, during the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Photo courtesy of Rolex.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 15:38

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Miroslav Penkov, assistant professor in the Creative Writing Program of the University of North Texas' Department of English, has been chosen as the literature protégé for the 2014-2015 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

Penkov's mentor will be Canadian novelist and poet Michael Ondaatje, best known as the author of The English Patient. He plans to visit Ondaatje in Toronto and travel with him to Bulgaria, Penkov's native country and the setting of the novel that Penkov is currently writing, titled Nominalia of the Imaginary Khans.

Penkov and the six other protégés for 2014-2015 were chosen from 154 applicants and 25 finalists. Each protégé will receive a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs -- just over $28,000 in U.S. dollars -- for the mentoring year, plus funds to cover travel and other major expenses. They may also each receive an additional 25,000 Swiss francs after the year is over for the creation of a new piece of work, a publication, a performance or a public event.

A UNT faculty member since 2009, Penkov received international attention for his first book, East of the West: A Country in Stories. The collection of short stories, published in 2011, was featured on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and published in 11 other countries in addition to the U.S. It became the top selling book in Bulgaria for 2012.

The book was a finalist for the 2012 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and the Texas Institute of Letters' Steven Turner Award for First Fiction. The book's title story, "East of the West," won the 2012 BBC International Short Story Award. "East of the West" and other stories from the book were selected for the 2012 PEN/O Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Short Stories.

A fiction editor for American Literary Review, which is published at UNT, Penkov was selected as a faculty fellow in UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts during the 2012-2013 academic year. He received a semester off from teaching to do research for Nominalia of the Imaginary Khans.

Penkov received his bachelor's degree in psychology and master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Arkansas.

Established in 2002, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, one of Rolex's philanthropies, brings talented young artists in architecture, dance, film, literature, music, theater and visual arts together with masters in these fields for a year of creative collaboration in a one-to-one mentoring relationship. Possible protégés are identified by nominating panels in each artistic discipline and are invited to submit applications to the panel. Panel members then identify three or four finalists, who interview with the master artists designated as mentors for that particular year. The mentor chooses his or her protégé, and will spend a minimum of 30 days working with him or her.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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