MU professor recieves award

Liz Challice

University Provost Madeleine Wake said she was “very excited” upon hearing the news of Hribal’s achievement.

“This is a very prestigious award and it marks Professor Hribal as a leader in terms of literature,” Wake said “Guggenheim winners go on to become Noble Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners — they are a rare group of people.”

Wake said the award was a great boost for Marquette and its English department.

“I feel tremendous gratitude,” Hribal said. “Validated of course, but mostly grateful.”

The fellowship is intended for mid-career professionals with distinguished past achievements who show promise of future accomplishments. Hribal considers himself mid-career at the age of 46. He became a literary professional at 26 with the publication of his first book “Matty’s Heart” (1984). It was selected for a New Voices Award.

Hribal has written two other novels: “American Beauty” (1987) and “The Clouds in Memphis” (2000). He is currently working on a new novel, “The Company Car.” He has also written a collection of stories, “The Boundaries of Twilight: Czecho-Slovak Writing from the New World” (1991). Additionally, he has written several book introductions, literary papers and book reviews for The Chicago Tribune and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Awards he’s received include the Wisconsin State Arts Board Individual Artist Grant, the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Bush Foundation Fellowship, a Loft-Mentor Fellowship, AWP (Associated Writing Programs) Award for Short Fiction and the Sternig Award for Short Fiction.

Hribal began teaching in 1986 at the University of Memphis and came to Marquette in 1990. His concentrations are fiction writing, contemporary American fiction, Eastern European fiction and Central European fiction.

Hribal attended St. Norbert College in De Pere where he began studying journalism, but later switched, creating his own major and receiving a B.A. in creative writing. He continued his studies at Syracuse University in New York where he received a master’s degree in Creative Writing in 1982.

“The most precious thing a writer can have is time to write,” Hribal said.

He plans on finishing the fall semester at Marquette and spending the spring semester writing full time.

According to his Web site,, he is spending his time, “teaching and writing and raising kids.”

Hribal is now a Fellow with three other Marquette professors. Milton Bates, professor of English, was awarded the fellowship in1989; Michael McCanles, professor of English, won in 1978; and the Rev. Francis Paul Prucha, professor emeritus of history, the first Marquette recipient, in 1967.

According to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Web site, the purpose of the program is “to help provide Fellows with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible. Fellows may spend their grant funds in any manner they deem necessary to their work.” The fellowship “assists research and artistic creation” for advanced professionals in all fields of the “natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and creative arts,” except performing arts.