Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Berlin or Bust

Adam Ross heads to Germany as a Berlin Prize fellow

As he ends his year as a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Nashville novelist Adam Ross has just received another prestigious appointment: he’ll be in the 2014-2015 class of Berlin Prize Fellows.

According to the American Academy in Berlin, which makes the awards, “The highly competitive Berlin Prize is awarded each year to scholars, writers, and artists who represent the highest standards of excellence in their fields. The Academy’s seventeenth class of fellows is comprised of outstanding historians of art, architecture, culture, religion, science, and American life, fiction writers, two artists, a poet, a journalist, a composer, a filmmaker, a legal scholar, and a scholar of comparative media.”

The award includes a monthly stipend and residence at Hans Arnhold Center in Berlin-Wannsee, where Ross and his family will live this fall. “The Berlin Prize affords recipients the time and resources to step back from their daily obligations to work on academic and artistic projects they might not otherwise pursue, engage with their German counterparts, and experience Berlin’s vibrant cultural and political life,” notes the Academy’s press release. Ross’s “class” in Berlin includes University of Tennessee historian Monica Black.

After an admittedly slow start, Ross’s career trajectory has been meteoric since Knopf published his first novel, Mr. Peanut, in 2010. Praise for that book—and for Ross’s sophomore effort with Knopf, 2011’s Ladies and Gentleman—was extravagant. Knopf will also publish his next novel, Playworld, which he plans to finish in Berlin. “The best way to describe the book,” Ross said in a telephone interview in 2013, “is that it’s about a really bad year in the the life of a child actor.” The book’s release date has not been set but is tentatively planned for summer 2015.