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Mississippi memoir wins Thurber Prize

Harrison Scott Key, who grew up in Mississippi, has won the 2016 Thurber Prize for American Humor for his memoir, ‘The World’s Largest Man.’
Harrison Scott Key, who grew up in Mississippi, has won the 2016 Thurber Prize for American Humor for his memoir, ‘The World’s Largest Man.’

A memoir of his literally larger-than-life father has earned Harrison Scott Key, who grew up in Mississippi, the 2016 Thurber Prize for American Humor.

Key received the award Monday in New York for “The World’s Largest Man,” published by Harper.

Key, who was born in Memphis and lived in a rural community near Brandon from 1984 to 1993, now lives in Savannah, Ga., with his wife and three children and is a professor of English at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is also a contributing editor for the Oxford American.

“The World’s Largest Man” is a funny and tender memoir of Key’s Bunyanesque father and his complicated relationship with him. Garden & Gun’s review of the book said, “A loose and rollicking compendium of stories that’s billed as a memoir but comports itself more like a killer concept album ... The reader registers chest pain, and presumes all the laughing has caused a rib to fracture. But no. One’s heart has cracked. Yet the laughter keeps coming, humor salving the hurt for reader and writer alike.”

Runners-up for the 2016 Thurber Prize were Jason Gay for “Little Victories” and Mary Norris for “Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.”

“The 2016 Thurber Prize is conferred upton the author and publisher of the outstanding book of humor writing published in the United States between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2015,” according to thurberhouse.org. Presented first in 1997, the award is named after American humorist James Thurber.

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