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G&A: The Contest Blog

Poet and fiction writer Mia Couto of Mozambique has won the 2014 Neustadt Prize for Literature. The $50,000 prize is given internationally for lifetime achievement.

Couto, 58, is the first Mozambican author to be nominated for and to win the prize. His books include the novels Sleepwalking Land and The Last Flight of the Flamingo and a short story collection, Voices Made Night. His works have been published in more than twenty languages.

Italo-Ethiopian author Gabriella Ghermandi, who nominated Couto for the prize, said, “He is an author who addresses not just his country but the entire world, all human beings.”

Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma; World Literature Today, the university’s magazine of international literature and culture; and the Neustadt family, the international prize is awarded to a poet, fiction writer, or playwright. Couto was chosen by a jury of nine international authors.

Established in 1969, the award is given every two years. Previous winners include Elizabeth Bishop, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alice Munro, Octavio Paz, Orhan Pamuk, and Mo Yan.

Couto is the twenty-third laureate of the Neustadt Prize and will accept the award at the University of Oklahoma during the Fall 2014 Neustadt Festival.

Submissions are currently open for the annual Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Awards. The prizes are given to published poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers of African descent.

To apply, publishers and may submit four copies of books published in the United States in 2013 with a $30 entry fee by November 22. Submissions must be mailed to Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, 12138 Central Avenue Suite 953, Bowie, MD 20721. Books of poetry, fiction (including novels, novellas, and short story collections) creative nonfiction (including memoirs and essay collections), and general nonfiction are eligible.

Eligible writers must be of African descent from any area of the diaspora. Visit the website for complete submission and eligibility guidelines.

The winners of the 2012 prize were announced last week at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The prize in poetry was awarded posthumously to the late Lucille Clifton for The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 (BOA Editions). Esi Edugyan won in fiction for her novel Half-Blood Blues (Picador); Fredrick C. Harris won in nonfiction for The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and Rise and Decline of Black Politics (Oxford University Press).

Natasha Trethewey, the United States Poet Laureate and author most recently of the collection Thrall, was also honored at the ceremony, along with nonfiction writers Wil Haygood and Isabel Wilkerson.

Founded in 1990 and named in honor of authors Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, the Hurston/Wright Foundation seeks to “discover, educate, mentor, and develop African American writers.”

In the video below, poets gathered in New York City earlier this year for Blessing the Boats: A Tribute to Lucille Clifton, a celebration of the late poet's life and work on the occasion of the publication of Collected Poems.

Author Bennett Sims has been selected to receive the 2014 Bard Fiction Prize. Given annually to an emerging writer for a book of innovative fiction, the prize includes a $30,000 cash award and an appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester.

Sims receives the award for his debut novel, A Questionable Shape, published by Two Dollar Radio this past May. He will complete his residency during the spring 2014 semester, during which time he will continue his writing, meet with students, and give a public reading.

Bennett Sims
Photo credit: Carmen Machado

“The judges delight in welcoming to the literary community of Bard a writer whose first novel represents a powerful (and very readable) fusion of genres—a story about the vagaries of human perception which is also a wild romp of zombies biting through a curiously lyrical apocalypse,” the Bard Fiction Prize committee wrote in a press release. “The author was one of the last students of David Foster Wallace, who was the first reader of the first version of this haunting novel of love and estrangement.”

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sims has studied at Pomona College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in A Public Space, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, Tin House, and Zoetrope: All-Story.

Established in 2001, the Bard Fiction Prize is given to writers under the age of forty. Last year’s prize was awarded to Brian Conn for his experimental novel, The Fixed Stars (Fiction Collective 2, 2010).

To apply for the 2015 prize, fiction writers may submit a curriculum vitae, a cover letter explaining the project they plan to work on while at Bard, and three copies of a published book of fiction by July 15, 2014. Visit the website for more information.

The Whiting Writers’ Awards, given annually by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation to ten emerging writers who show “exceptional talent and promise in early career,” were announced on Monday. Each writer will receive the $50,000. 

The 2013 winners are Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, a fiction and nonfiction writer whose novella, The Man Who Danced with Dolls, was published in 2012 by Madras Press; Amanda Coplin, a fiction writer whose first novel, The Orchardist, was published by HarperCollins in 2012; Jennifer duBois, a fiction writer whose debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was published by Dial Press in 2012, and whose newest novel, Cartwheel, was published in September by Random House; Virginia Grise, the author of several plays including Making Myth; Ishion Hutchinson, a poet whose debut collection, Far District, was published by Peepal Tree Press Limited in 2010; Morgan Meis, a nonfiction writer whose collection of essays, Ruins, was published by Fallen Bros Press in 2012; C. E. Morgan, a fiction writer whose first novel, All the Living, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2009; Rowan Ricardo Phillips, a poet whose first collection, The Ground, was published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in 2012; Clifford Thompson, a fiction and nonfiction writer whose essay collection, Love for Sale, was published this year by Autumn House Press; and Stephanie Powell Watts, a fiction writer whose debut story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need, was published in 2012 by BkMk Press. 

The Whiting Awards honor works in the categories of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays, and are intended to identify writers “who have yet to make their mark on the literary culture.'’

Since 1985, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Writing Foundation has given over $6 million to 290 writers. Visit the website to learn more about this year's winners.

The National Book Foundation announced the finalists for its annual National Book Awards this week. The selection of finalists follows last month’s longlist announcement, the first time in the foundation’s sixty-four-year history that such a list has been published.

The finalists in fiction are Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner); Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Knopf); James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead); Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (Penguin); and George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House).

The finalists in poetry are Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Knopf); Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Penguin); Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press); and Mary Szybist, Incarnadine (Graywolf Press).

The finalists in nonfiction are Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf); Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (Norton); and Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (Knopf).

Also new from the foundation is The Contenders: Excerpts from the 2013 National Book Award Finalists, a free National Book Award eBook series available for download from the foundation’s website in a variety of formats.

Visit the website to read more about the finalists, and to see the selections in the category of young people’s literature. Selections in each of the four categories were made by a panel of judges comprised of five writers and literary professionals.

The winners will be announced at the sixty-fourth annual National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony in New York City on November 20, which will be streamed live on the Foundation’s website. Winners will receive $10,000; all finalists will receive $1,000.

Eleanor Catton was awarded the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for The Luminaries, an epic novel set in nineteenth-century New Zealand. Catton, twenty-eight, is the youngest person to ever receive the prize.

Born in Canada and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, Catton began writing the book, her second novel, at age twenty-five. The previous youngest recipient of the award, Ben Okri, won the prize in 1991 at age thirty-two. At 848 pages, The Luminaries (published by Granta in Britain and Little, Brown in the U.S.) is also the longest novel to win the award. Catton is only the second person from New Zealand to win.

Eleanor CattonThe prize was announced at a ceremony in London’s Guildhall. Chair of judges Robert Macfarlane called the book a “dazzling work, luminous, vast” with an “extraordinarily gripping” narrative. “The Luminaries is a novel you pan, as if for gold, and the returns are huge,” Macfarlane said. “Maturity is evident in every sentence, in the rhythms and balances. It is a novel of astonishing control.”
 
Catton beat out five other finalists for the prize: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo; Harvest by Jim Crace; A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki; The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri; and The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. According British betting site Ladbrokes, Crace was the favorite to win. Catton will receive £50,000, or about $80,000.

It’s been a few good years for historical fiction, Hilary Mantel having won the prize both in 2009 and 2012 for Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, respectively, the first two books in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy.

Britain’s most prestigious literary prize, the Booker has been awarded annually for forty-five years to a novelist from the United Kingdom, Ireland, or the British Commonwealth. Last month, however, the Booker Prize Foundation announced that, beginning in 2014, the prize would be open to all novels written in English and published in the United Kingdom, regardless of the author’s nationality.

In total, 151 books were nominated for this year’s prize. The winner is selected by the judging panel on the day of the ceremony.

Canadian short story writer Alice Munro has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. Munro, eighty-two, is the first Canadian writer and only the thirteenth woman to win the award.

Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, made the announcement today in Stockholm, calling Munro a "master of the contemporary short story." Munro, who lives in Clinton, Ontario, and whose work often deals with small-town life and the complicated relationships between women and men, announced earlier this year that she may be retiring. Her fourteenth story collection, Dear Life, was published in 2012 by Knopf.

One of the most prestigious prizes in the world, the Nobel Prize is given to a writer for a body of work, rather than a single book. The winner receives eight million Swedish kronor, or approximately $1.2 million.

Recent winners of the prize include Chinese writer Mo Yan, in 2012; Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, in 2011; Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, in 2010; and the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist Herta Müller, in 2009.

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