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G&A: The Contest Blog

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) has announced the creation of the John Leonard Award, a new prize honoring a first book of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, biography, criticism, or autobiography. The recipient of the award—who will be selected by the NBCC’s member critics and editors—will be announced at the annual NBCC awards ceremony in early 2014.

The new award is named in honor of John Leonard, a literary critic and former editor of the New York Times Book Review. A founding member of the NBCC, Leonard (1939–2008) was known not only for his criticism of books, film, and television, but also for his encouragement of young critics and the attention he paid to debut writers. “One of the first American critics to write on Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Leonard shared his enthusiasms with a wide reading audience,” the NBCC reported in a press release. “In creating the John Leonard Award, the NBCC recognizes his commitment to nurturing new authors.”

Founded in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle Awards are given annually "to honor outstanding writing and to foster a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature." The awards are open to any book in English, including translations, published in the United States in the previous year. Poet D.A. Powell and fiction writer Ben Fountain received the 2012 awards. The John Leonard Award will be the first award selected directly by the NBCC’s membership—which is comprised of nearly five hundred book critics, editors, and authors nationwide—rather than by its board of directors.

American author Lydia Davis has won the fifth Man Booker International Prize. The award, worth £60,000 (approximately $90,000), was presented to Davis yesterday at an awards ceremony in London. 

Davis, whose recent prose chapbook, The Cows, was published by Sarabande Books in 2011, and whose collaborative work, Two American Scenes, is just out as part of the New Directions poetry pamphlet series, is best known for her short stories, which are often noted for their brevity. Christopher Ricks, chairman of the Man Booker International Prize panel of judges, said Davis’s “writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorize them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers, or simply observations.”

Davis is the author of nine story collections and one novel, The End of the Story (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994). She is also a translator of French literature, most notably Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. 

The Man Booker International Prize is given biennially to a fiction writer from any country for a body of work. Living authors who have published fiction originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language are eligible. The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel, which this year included Ricks, Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna, Yiyun Li, and Tim Parks. 

The finalists were U. R. Ananthamurthy, Aharon Appelfeld, Intizar Husain, Yan Lianke, Marie NDiaye, Josip Novakovich, Marilynne Robinson, Vladimir Sorokin, and Peter Stamm. The previous prize winners have included Chinua Achebe, Ismail Kadaré, Alice Munro, and Philip Roth.

Independent poetry and fiction publisher Lynx House Press has extended the deadline for its seventeenth annual Blue Lynx Prize—which includes a cash award of two thousand dollars and publication for a poetry collection—to June 3.

The Blue Lynx Prize is awarded for a previously unpublished, full-length collection of poems by a U.S. author, including foreign nationals living and writing in the United States and U.S. citizens living abroad. Individual poems may have previously appeared in literary magazines or anthologies, but may not have appeared in a full-length, single-author collection

Poets may submit a manuscript of at least forty-eight pages with a $25 entry fee by postal mail to Lynx House Press, P.O. Box 940, Spokane, WA 99210, or online via Submittable (with a $27.50 fee) by Monday, June 3. 

Lynx House Press was founded in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1972 by Christopher Howell, David Lyon, and Helena Minton, and moved to Spokane in 1996. An independent nonprofit press, Lynx House publishes books by emerging and established poets and fiction writers. The editors look for “literary work that is highly resonant, work that, through the clarity of its vision and craft, results in a change in the emotional and intellectual temperature of whoever reads it.” The press has published books by Yusef Komunyakaa, Ray Amorosi, Margaret Robison, Carlos Reyes, Carolyn Miller, and Anthony Robbins, among many others. Recent prize winners have included Thomas Brush, Carolyne Wright, and Arianne Zwartjes. 

The Blue Lynx Prize is typically open to submissions between January 15 and May 15 annually; open submissions are read between June 1 and August 1 each year.

For more information about the prize, contact editor Christopher Howell

Katherine Noble, a senior in the English Department at the University of Texas in Austin, has received the Keene Prize for Literature for her collection of poems, “Like Electrical Fire Across the Silence.” She will receive $50,000. 

Noble is the first undergraduate to win or even place in the Keene competition, one of the world’s largest student literary prizes, which has been given annually to University of Texas students since 2006. Graduate students in the university’s Michener Center MFA program typically take home the award. 

“The judges were impressed by her audacious combination of spirituality with sexuality, by her wide range of literary reference, and her bold experimentation with the form of the prose poem,” said Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, chair of the Department of English and the award selection committee, of Nobel’s poems.

“I have been affected by images from biblical myths since I was a young girl,” Noble said in a press release, “and the narrators in my poems often wrestle to understand how God interacts with the physical world.”

In addition to Noble, three finalists will each receive $17,000. They are Corey Miller, a current Michener Center graduate student, for his collection of poems “The New Concentration”; Karan Mahajan, also a Michener Center graduate student, for an excerpt from his novel “Notes on a Small Bomb”; and Jenn Shapland, an English Department graduate student, for her essay collection “Finders Keepers.”

Fiction writer Fiona McFarlane, a Michener Center graduate, whose stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the Missouri Review, and elsewhere, received the 2012 prize

Established by the the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, the Keene Prize is given in honor of E. L. Keene, a 1942 graduate of the university who “envisioned an award that would enhance and enrich the university’s prestige and support the work of young writers,” which would be given for “the most vivid and vital portrayal of the American experience in microcosm.” The award is given to enrolled undergraduate or graduate students for poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or plays. 

In celebration of National Short Story Month, the arts and culture website Flavorwire has announced the launch of its first-ever short fiction contest. The winner will receive $500 and publication on the Flavorwire website.

Fiction writers may submit a previously unpublished story of up to five thousand words by e-mail (in the body of a message, not as an attachment) along with a brief author biography and contact information to flavorwirefiction@gmail.com by Friday, May 17. There is no entry fee. 

Flavorwire literary editor Emily Temple will judge, and the winner will be announced on May 24. The winning story and a selection of honorable mentions will be published on the website during the final week of May.

For more information about Flavorwire or the short fiction contest, visit the website—and while you’re there, check out eight fascinating stories behind classic book titles

Bauhan Publishing is currently accepting submissions for its third annual May Sarton New Hampshire Book Prize. An award of one thousand dollars, publication, and one hundred author copies is given for a poetry collection.

Poets may submit a previously unpublished manuscript of fifty to eighty pages, written in English, with a $25 entry fee by June 30. Submissions are accepted by postal mail or via the online submission system. Jeff Friedman will judge. 

The prize, first given in 2011, is named in honor of the late American poet, novelist, and memoirist May Sarton. Originally open only to first collections, the prize is now also open to poets with previously published books. Rebecca Givens Rolland won the 2011 prize for her collection The Wreck of Birds; Nils Michals won the 2012 prize for Come Down to Earth.

Founded in 1959, the Peterborough–based Bauhan Publishing is an independent press that publishes books with a New England regional focus, including poetry collections and nonfiction works on the topics of history, art, and nature. General submissions are considered year-round. 

Last week, the first annual Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction was awarded to Don DeLillo, the author of sixteen novels, including White Noise (Viking, 1985), Libra (Viking, 1988), and Underworld (Scribner, 1997) and, most recently, the short story collection The Angel Esmeralda (Scribner, 2011). 

DeLillo, 76, was nominated by a panel of prize-winning authors and literary critics, and will receive the award at the Library of Congress National Book Festival in September. Among a lifetime of literary accolades, DeLillo has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize—for Mao II (Viking, 1991) and Underworld—received a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award for White Noise, and was a finalist for last year’s Story Prize. In addition to his full-length works, DeLillo has also penned a number of plays, screenplays, short stories, and essays. 

“Like Dostoyevsky, Don DeLillo probes deeply into the sociopolitical and moral life of his country,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in the April 25 announcement. “Over a long and important career, he has inspired his readers with the diversity of his themes and the virtuosity of his prose.”

In a statement, DeLillo—a first generation Italian American born and raised in the Bronx—said, “When I received news of this award, my first thoughts were of my mother and father, who came to this country the hard way, as young people confronting a new language and culture. In a significant sense, the Library of Congress Prize is the culmination of their efforts and a tribute to their memory.”

The new prize is inspired by the Creative Achievement Award for fiction, previously given by the Library to Herman Wouk in 2008, John Grisham in 2009, Isabel Allende in 2010, Toni Morrison in 2011, and Philip Roth in 2012. The Prize for American Fiction will, according to the announcement, be given annually "to honor an American writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that—throughout long, consistently accomplished careers—have told us something about the American experience.”

DeLillo, who often admits that his long career took some time to get started, is currently at work on a novel. 

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