LARAMIE (WNE) — Brad Watson, an award-winning author and the University of Wyoming’s creative writing program director, died this week. He was 64.

Watson published four books and essays in The New Yorker, Granta, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, The Oxford American, The Idaho Review, The O.Henry Prize Stories, New Stories from the South, and others.

His 2010 short story collection, “Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives,” was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, one of the literary world’s most distinguished honors.

“The Heaven of Mercury,” Watson’s 2002 novel, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Jacob Silverman in his New York Times book review called the novel “splendidly dream-laden.” His latest release, 2016’s “Miss Jane,” was also praised by critics.

UW interim provost Anne Alexander said she was “heartbroken” to hear about Watson’s death.

“He was an extraordinary writer, an inspirational teacher, a fantastic colleague and a beautiful soul,” Alexander said in a statement. “UW was lucky that he chose to be part of our family and make Laramie his home, and he will be sorely and dearly missed.”

Watson was born in Mississippi and lived in Alabama, Florida, California, Boston and Wyoming. After trying a year in Hollywood to break into the film industry, Watson returned to Mississippi where he began his higher education and eventually his writing career. Watson graduated with a bachelor’s from Mississippi State University and a master’s from the University of Alabama.

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