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G&A: The Contest Blog

Last night in New York City, Elizabeth McCracken was announced the winner of the tenth-annual Story Prize for her collection Thunderstruck (The Dial Press). The $20,000 prize is awarded for a short story collection published in the previous year.

The finalists, who each receive $5,000, were Francesca Marciano for her collection The Other Language (Pantheon) and Lorrie Moore for her collection Bark (Knopf). In addition, Kyle Minor received the Story Prize Spotlight Award—a prize of $1,000 given for a collection that merits additional attention—for his second collection, Praying Drunk (Sarabande Books). During last night’s event, the finalists read and discussed their work on stage with prize director Larry Dark.

A former public librarian who currently teaches at the University of Texas in Austin, McCracken has received literary grants and awards from numerous organizations including the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy in Berlin. McCracken’s previous books include the story collection Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry, the novels The Giants House and Niagara Falls All Over Again, and the memoir An Exact Replica of a Figure of My Imagination. Thunderstruck is her first short story collection in two decades.

“When you read this book it’s hard to believe it’s her first collection in twenty years—these stories are funny, nuanced, and self-assured,” said prize director Larry Dark. In her on-stage discussion with Dark, McCracken talked about her process, her return to the short story form, and the importance of humor in her writing. “The extent to which I believe that there is redemption in the world of sadness—it is by humor,” she said. McCracken also discussed her use of sensual detail and the importance of creating “evidence that the world in the story existed.”

Dark and Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey selected the three finalists from a record 129 submitted books, representing 85 different publishers. The winner was selected by three judges: Arsen Kashkashian, a book buyer and general manager of the Boulder Bookstore; Noreen Tomassi, director of the Center for Fiction in New York City; and author Laura van den Berg. “Each story in the collection reads like a masterwork, rich and confident and surprising, and together they form an electrifying whole,” the judges said of McCracken’s work. “She writes with such an open and compassionate heart that even the most damaged and lost of her characters thrum with life.”

Established in 2004 to honor the short story, the Story Prize is the largest award given for a book of fiction in the United States. Previous winners include Mary Gordon, George Saunders, Steven Millhauser, and Tobias Wolff.

The shortlist for the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award has been announced. Sponsored by Booktrust, Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper, and the EFG Private Bank, the annual prize of £30,000 (approximately $46,000) is given for a short story by a writer who has been published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. The finalists will each receive £1,000 (approximately $1,535). The winner will be announced at an award ceremony in a London on April 24.

This year’s shortlisted stories are Rebecca F. John’s “The Glove Maker’s Numbers,” Yiyun Li’s “A Sheltered Woman,” Elizabeth McCracken’s “Hungry,” Paula Morris’s “False River,” Scott O’Connor’s “Interstellar Space,” and Madeleine Thien’s “The Wedding Cake.” Subscribers of the Sunday Times can read the finalists’ stories on the publication’s website.

Judge critic and broadcaster Alex Clark says that the six shortlisted stories “represent the variety, ambition and invention we encountered throughout the judging process—and they also reflect the continuing health and vitality of this wonderful form.” The prize’s cofounder and chief of judges Lord Matthew Evans says, “We have six brilliant but utterly different examples which showcase the best of the short story form—ambitious in imagination, global in scope, yet all packing an emotional punch that will stay with readers for a long time after they have finished reading.” Sir Richard Eyre, Aminatta Forna, Andrew Holgate, and Elif Shafak round out this year’s judging panel.

Established in 2009, the international prize aims to promote and celebrate the excellence of the modern short story. Previous winners include Kevin Barry, Junot Díaz, Anthony Doerr, Adam Johnson, and C. K. Stead. This is the first year in the prize's six-year history in which five out of the six finalists are women.

Photos, clockwise from top left: Yiyun Li, Paula Morris, Scott O’Connor, Elizabeth McCracken, Madeleine Thien, Rebecca F. John.

The winners of the 2015 Windham Campbell Prizes for Literature were announced at a press conference this morning at Yale University. The international awards, administered by Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, are given to English-language writers of fiction, nonfiction, and drama for a body of work or extraordinary promise. Each winner receives $150,000.

The 2015 winners are, in fiction: Teju Cole (U.S./Nigeria), Helon Habila (Nigeria), and Ivan Vladislavić (South Africa); in nonfiction: Edmund de Waal (U.K.), Geoff Dyer (U.K.), and John Jeremiah Sullivan (U.S.); and, in drama: Jackie Sibblies Drury (U.S.), Helen Edmundson (U.K), and Debbie Tucker Green (U.K). Read complete bios of each winner here.

The Windham Campbell Prizes were established in 2013 by Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. There is no submission process, and winners are determined by an international group of invited nominators, a jury in each category, and an anonymous selection committee.

In September, the winners will gather from around the world at Yale for an international literary festival celebrating their work. All events are free and open to the public.

“The Windham Campbell Prizes were created by a writer to support other writers," said Michael Kelleher, director of the program. “Donald Windham recognized that the most significant gift he could give to another writer was time to write. In addition to the recognition prestige it confers, the prize gives them just that—with no strings attached."

Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library houses the Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell Papers. For more information about the awards and winners, visit windhamcampbell.org.

Photos: Teju Cole, Geoff Dyer, John Jeremiah Sullivan.

Submissions for the Black Earth Institute (BEI) 2015-2018 fellowships are currently being accepted until March 15. An organization dedicated to supporting artists who address social justice, environmental issues, and spirituality in their work, BEI will award six fellowships of $3,000 each, given over the course of three years, to emerging and established poets, fiction writers, creative nonfiction writers, and other artists.

Fellows will receive an annual $1,000 stipend to support a single, larger project such as a book, or several smaller projects that combine the “artist’s creative direction with the goals and values of BEI.” In addition to completing individual projects, fellows will edit an issue of BEI’s literary journal, About Place, which carries with it a separate $1,000 stipend, and participate in various panels and readings associated with the institute. Fellows are also expected to attend BEI’s annual retreat, which will be held October 8-11 in Black Earth, Wisconsin.

To apply, submit a letter of intent to blackearthinstitute@gmail.com. Upon acceptance of the letter, BEI will notify applicants and request a full interview. Complete submission guidelines can be found on Black Earth Institute’s website.

Founded in 2005 by author and professor Patricia Monaghan and physician and social activist Michael McDermott, the Black Earth Institute focuses on “re-forging the links between spirit, earth and society” through art and “bringing artists together to foment change.” Previous fellows have included LaTasha Diggs, Annie Finch, Roberta Hill, Tom Montgomery Fate, and John P. Briggs. Fellows have participated in panels at various art and environmental events, including the Split This Rock Poetry Festival, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference, and the Iowa State Wildness Conferences.

Noah Warren of New Orleans has won the 2015 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize for his debut poetry collection, The Destroyer in the Glass. He will receive a fellowship at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut, and his collection will be published by Yale University Press in April 2016. The annual prize is given for a debut poetry collection by a poet under the age of 40.

Carl Phillips, the series judge since 2011, chose Warren’s manuscript from over five hundred entries. “The Destroyer in the Glass impresses at once with its wedding of intellect, heart, sly humor, and formal dexterity, all in the service of negotiating those moments when an impulse toward communion with others competes with an instinct for a more isolated self,” says Phillips. “The poems both examine and embody the nexus of joy and sorrow, of certainty and confusion, without which there’d be none of the restlessness that makes us uniquely human.”

Warren, who was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, graduated from Yale University in 2011. He is the recipient of Yale University’s Frederick Mortimer Clapp Fellowship, and has published work in AGNI, Poetry, the Southern Review, and the Yale Review.

Warren is the 110th winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, which is the oldest poetry prize in the United States. Past winners include John Ashbery, Jack Gilbert, Robert Hass, Adrienne Rich, and Jean Valentine. Ansel Elkins won in 2014 for her collection, Blue Yodel, forthcoming from Yale University Press in March.

Photo: Noah Warren, Credit: Ana Flores

Submissions are currently open for the 2015 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest, given annually for a short story by a writer who has not yet published a book of fiction. The winner will receive a scholarship, valued at $2,195, to attend the 2015 Writers Workshop from June 13 to June 20 in Gambier, Ohio. The winning story will also be published in the Kenyon Review.

Using the online submission system, submit a story of up to 1,200 words with an $18 entry fee by February 28. All entrants will receive a one-year subscription to the Kenyon Review. Ann Patchett, whose most recent book is the essay collection This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (Harper, 2013), will judge. The winner will be announced in late spring.

The 2015 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, which offers workshops and readings, will be held at Kenyon College from June 13 to June 20. The faculty in fiction includes Lee K. Abbott, Caitlin Horrocks, and Nancy Zafris. Workshops are limited to ten participants each. Established fifteen years ago, the conference also offers workshops in poetry, creative nonfiction, and the art of text.

Previous winners of the prize include Amy Victoria Blakemore for her story “Previously, Sparrows” and Heather Monley for her story “Town of Birds.”

Photo: Kenyon College

The shortlist for the 2015 Folio Prize for fiction was announced today. The eight finalists, selected from a list of eighty works, are 10:04 by Ben Lerner (Granta), All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (Faber), Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (Granta), Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Granta), Family Life by Akhil Sharma (Faber), How to Be Both by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton), Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín (Viking), and Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber).

FolioNow in its second year, the annual Folio Prize is awarded for a book of fiction published in the United Kingdom in the previous year. The prize is open to writers from any country, and aims to “celebrate the best fiction of our time, regardless of form or genre, and to bring it to the attention of as many readers as possible.” The winner receives an award of £40,000 ($60,000). George Saunders won the inaugural 2014 Folio Prize for his short story collection Tenth of December (Random House).  

Acclaimed writers William Fiennes, Rachel Cooke, Mohsin Hamid, A. M. Homes, and Deborah Levy compose this year's judging panel. The judges are members of the Folio Prize Academy—an international group of 235 writers and critics. Fiennes, the judging panel Chair, stated in a press release that the shortlisted works “manage to be both epic and intimate—in fact, they show those dimensions to be two sides of the same coin. They’ve surprised, moved, challenged and enchanted us. They’ve made us laugh. They’ve grown and deepened when we read them again.”

The winner will be announced on March 23 in London in a ceremony following the Folio Prize Fiction Festival. The festival, which will return for its second year at the British Library, will feature panel discussions from authors and critics from the Folio Prize Academy, as well as readings from the shortlisted authors.

The prize is sponsored by the London-based Folio Society, which publishes high-quality illustrated editions of classic and contemporary works. Visit the Folio Prize website to learn more.

Photos above, left to right: Ben Lerner (credit FSG), Colm Tóibín (credit Scribner) and Ali Smith (credit David Levenson, Getty)

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