Photo by John F. Martin

Bridge wins 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction

“In Bridge, Robert Thomas constructs, with urgency and crackling, unrelenting energy, a story told with the contradictory self-doubt and wild self-awareness of a bright, sardonic, and potentially self-destructive young woman. Even as we appreciate her tenuous existential dilemma, Alice’s vivid internal construction of an overwhelming worldview in short diaristic episodes seems, in its very creation, to keep her alive. Considering how easily readers might have felt claustrophobic within, or limited by Alice’s point of view—interior, unraveling—it is singularly impressive that Thomas manages—through the beauty of his prose, sophistication of his references, and propulsive energy of Alice’s mind—to connect the reader, and the narrator’s struggle, with the outside world. Although Alice’s beautiful and dangerous estrangement is entirely and selfishly her own, it becomes ours, and teaches us something larger and universal. This novel is an experiential wonder, giddy and joyful reading via the desperate empathy it both demands and models. The digressive, perfectly choreographed role of docent to everyday madness, as played by our heroine, is a brave pleasure in word and sentence, a totally pleasing combination of narrator and authorial, artistic self-control, and vividly evocative self-consciousness.”

Judges’ Statement, by Cynthia Sweeney, Melanie Thorne, and Andrew Tonkovich

“The rushing thoughts, sense impressions, quirky language and crumbling boundaries all work to convey agonizing universal truths. And in this way, Alice reminds us of the truth about how hard it can be for anyone who’s really paying attention to survive in a world composed of such extremes of beauty and indifference.”

— Frances Lefkowitz, San Francisco Chronicle Review of Bridge

Robert Thomas’ latest book, Bridge, is a work of fiction published by BOA Editions, Ltd. His first book, Door to Door, was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa as winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize and published by Fordham University Press, and his second book, Dragging the Lake, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. He has received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and won a Pushcart Prize.

Robert lives with his wife in Oakland, California, currently in the house where he was born although he has lived in many locations in Northern California, including the North Beach, Russian Hill, Upper Market, Outer Richmond, and Inner Sunset neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Following a distinguished tenure as a barista at Caffe Trieste (Allen Ginsberg said he made a great caffe latte) and a disastrous one as a waiter at Luigi’s, Robert worked for years as a legal secretary in San Francisco, gathering inspiration willy-nilly for Bridge.