American novelist and short story writer Richard Ford poses during a photo call at the 39th American Film Festival in Deauville, Normandy, western France, Sept. 3, 2013. Ford, whose novels include the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Independence Day,” is being honored by the Library of Congress. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Thursday that Ford has won the library’s Prize for American Fiction. He will be presented the award Aug. 31, during the National Book Festival, which takes place in Washington, D.C. Credit: Lionel Cironneau | AP

Boothbay resident Richard Ford, whose novel “Independence Day” was the first to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

The honor was announced Thursday by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Ford will receive the prize Aug. 31 during the 2019 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

“He has been called our Babe Ruth of novelists, and there is good reason why,” Hayden said in announcing the prize. “He is quintessentially American, profoundly humane, meticulous in his craft, daring on the field, and he hits it consistently out of the park.

Hayden also called Ford “one of the most eloquent writers of his generation.”

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The annual prize honors an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that — throughout long, consistently accomplished careers — have told us something essential about the American experience, according to the Library of Congress.

“The good fortune of being given this prize — even apart from its private encouragement — is to be allowed to participate in what I’ve always taken to be the library’s great achievement: to encourage literacy, to advocate for the primacy of the literary arts and to draw closer to the needs of readers,” Ford said. “The Library of Congress’ Prize for American Fiction makes me feel — accurately or not — what most novelists would like to feel, which is useful to our country’s conversation with the world.”

Ford was born in 1944 in Jackson, Mississippi, and grew up between there and Little Rock, Arkansas. He earned degrees from Michigan State University and the University of California at Irvine, where he studied under 2014 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction winner E.L. Doctorow.

Ford has written seven novels, as well as the New York Times bestselling novella collection “Let Me Be Frank with You” and a memoir, “Between Them: Remembering My Parents.” His books have been translated into 35 foreign languages.

He lives in Boothbay with his wife, Kristina Ford.