Author Joy Williams honored by Library of Congress

NEW YORK — The Library of Congress awarded a lifetime achievement prize to Joy Williams, a fiction writer known for her spare prose and dark and incisive worldview.

Williams is this year’s recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, an honor previously given to Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and Don DeLillo among others.

“Her work reveals the strange and unsettling grace just beneath the surface of our lives. In a story, a moment, a single sentence, it can force us to reimagine how we see ourselves, how we understand each other — and how we relate to the natural world,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement Wednesday.

Williams, 77, has written such novels as “State of Grace” and “The Changeling” and story collections such as “The Visiting Privilege.” Her previous awards include the Rea Award for the Short Story, and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

“This is a wonderful award and one that inspires much humility,” Williams said in a statement about the Library of Congress prize. “The American story is wild, uncapturable and discomfiting, and our fiction — our literature — is poised to challenge and deeply change us as it becomes ever more inclusive and ecocentric.”

DeLillo, the 2013 winner, said in a statement: “The fiction of Joy Williams reminds me how lucky I am to be an American writer. She writes strong, steady and ever-unexpected narratives, word by word, sentence by sentence. This is the American language and she is an expert practitioner.”