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G&A: The Contest Blog

On Tuesday, the Washington, D.C.-based National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced the recipients of the 2013 Creative Writing Fellowships. The annual grants, which are given in alternating genres, were awarded this year to poets. Each of the forty fellows will receive $25,000.

The 2013 fellows are: Jose Perez Beduya of Ithaca, New York; Miriam Bird Greenberg of Berkeley, California; Sarah Blake of Havertown, Pennsylvania; Traci Brimhall of Kalamazoo, Michigan; Jenny Browne of San Antonio, Texas; Suzanne Buffam of Chicago; Ken Chen of New York City; Maxine Chernoff of Mill Valley, California; Eduardo C. Corral of Rego Park, New York; Lisa Fay Coutley of Salt Lake City; Meg Day of Salt Lake City; Ansel Elkins of Greensboro, North Carolina; Jill Alexander Essbaum of Austin, Texas; Reginald L. Flood of Quaker Hill, Connecticut; Sarah Gorham of Prospect, Kentucky; Pamela Hart of South Salem, New York; Sy Hoahwah of Benton, Arkansas; Elizabeth Hughey of Birmingham, Alabama; Joshua Kryah of Las Vegas; Rickey Laurentiis of St. Louis, Missouri; Sarah Mangold of Edmonds, Washington; Kerrin McCadden of Plainfield, Vermont; Shane McCrae of Iowa City; Philip Metres of University Heights, Ohio; Simone Muench of Chicago; John Murillo of New York City; Jacob Rakovan of Rochester, New York; Srikanth Reddy of Chicago; Roger W. Reeves of Chicago; James Richardson of Princeton, New Jersey; Rachel Richardson of Greensboro, North Carolina; David Rigsbee of Raleigh, North Carolina; Atsuro Riley of San Francisco; Allison Seay of Midlothian, Virginia; Solmaz Sharif of Los Angeles; B. T. Shaw of Portland, Oregon; Ryan Teitman of Berkeley, California; Sarah Vap of Santa Monica, California; Jake Adam York of Denver; and Rachel Zucker of New York City. 

The NEA received 1,137 eligible fellowship applications this year, which were narrowed down to 110 finalists by a panel of 22 professionals from the literary field. Final selections are made each year by the chairman of the NEA.  

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts has given more than four billion dollars in grants to individual artists and arts organizations in support of literary, visual, and performing arts. Tuesday’s announcement also named 832 arts organizations—including a number of independent presses, literary magazines, and universities—which will receive 2013 grants through the NEA’s Art Works program.

The application deadline for 2013 translation fellowships is January 3; the 2014 creative writing fellowships, whose deadline has not yet been set, will be given in fiction and creative nonfiction. For more information, visit the NEA website

American fiction writer Maggie Shipstead was recently named the winner of the 2012 Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers, an annual award of £30,000 (approximately $48,000) given by the University of Wales to a writer under the age of thirty.

Shipstead, twenty-eight, won the prize for her debut novel, Seating Arrangements (Knopf, 2012). A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, she lives in Coronado, California.

About Seating Arrangements, which turns a satirical eye toward New England wealth and family, author and prize judge Allison Pearson says, “At the age of twenty-eight, Maggie Shipstead has imagined herself inside the head of a fifty-nine-year-old male in the grip of an erotic infatuation. This is territory that has been covered by the greats of American fiction, including John Updike and Jane Smiley. Maggie Shipstead doesn’t just follow in their footsteps; she beats a distinctive and dazzling path of her own. The world has found a remarkable, humane new voice to explain us to ourselves.”

Established in 2006, the Dylan Thomas Prize, one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers, is given internationally for a book written in English and published in the previous year. The shortlist for the prize also included Tom Benn for The Doll Princess (Jonathan Cape), Andrea Eames for The White Shadow (Random House), Chibundu Onuzo for The Spider King’s Daughter (Faber & Faber), and D.W. Wilson for Once You Break A Knuckle (Bloomsbury).

Previous winners include Lucy Caldwell for her novel The Meeting Point (Faber & Faber, 2011), Elyse Fenton for her poetry collection Clamour (Cleveland State University, 2010), Nam Le for his short story collection The Boat (Knopf, 2008), and Rachel Trezise, whose short story collection Fresh Apples (Parthian Books) received the inaugural prize in 2006. For more information on the Dylan Thomas Prize, visit the website

Last night at the National Book Foundation gala in New York City, novelist Louise Erdrich was named the recipient of the 2012 National Book Award in fiction. Erdrich, whose latest novel is The Round House (Harper, 2012), will receive $10,000.

This is the first National Book Award for Erdrich, 58, who over the past thirty years has authored fourteen novels and a short story collection, three books of nonfiction, and three poetry collections. The Round House, the second installment in a trilogy, follows an Ojibwe boy as he seeks to avenge his mother's rape. Erdrich, who is part Ojibwe, dedicated her award last night to "the grace and endurance of native people."

"This is a book about a huge case of injustice ongoing on reservations," she added. "Thank you for giving it a wider audience."

In nonfiction, Katherine Boo took the prize for her debut, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House, 2012). David Ferry, whose latest collection is Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press, 2012), won the award in poetry. William Alexander won in the young people’s literature category for his young adult novel Goblin Secrets (Margaret K. McElderry, 2012). Each winner receives $10,000.

The awards were given amid recent discussions among publishers and the National Book Foundation that the annual award—one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the United States, second perhaps only to the Pulitzer—had become too insular, and was in need of expanding its image and scope. Finalists in fiction included such names as Dave Eggers and Junot Diaz; the finalists in nonfiction included Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson series and the late Anthony Shadid's lauded memoir House of Stone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Honorary prizes were also given to author Elmore Leonard and longtime New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.

Established in 1950, the National Book Awards are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction published in the previous year. For more information, visit the National Book Foundation website.

Due to the recent effects of Hurricane Sandy, Ohio University Press has extended the deadline for the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize to November 15. The annual competition, which awards a $1,000 cash prize and publication by Ohio University Press, is given for a poetry collection.

Poets may submit previously unpublished manuscripts of sixty to ninety-five pages, along with a $25 entry fee, to Ohio University Press, 19 Circle Drive, The Ridges, Athens, Ohio 45701. The competition is open to poets who have published a full-length collection and those who have not. For more information and complete submission guidelines, visit the Ohio University Press website.

The annual prize is named for the poet Hollis Summers, who taught at Ohio University for many years and frequently wrote about the city of Athens in his poems. 

Poet Nick Norwood won last year’s prize for his third full-length collection, Gravel & Hawk, published this past April by Ohio University Press. In the podcast below from the PBS NewsHour program “Art Beat,” hear Nick read the poem “A.M.” from his winning collection.

Bard College has announced that author Brian Conn will be the recipient of the 2013 Bard Fiction Prize. Conn will receive a $30,000 cash award and a residency at Bard College during the spring 2013 semester. Conn received the prize for his debut book, The Fixed Stars, an experimental science fiction novel published by Fiction Collective 2 in 2010. As a writer-in-residence at Bard, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, Conn will meet with students, give public readings, and continue to write.

“What won the respect of the Bard Fiction Prize judges was the remarkable way the weird, perplexing bleakness of the imagined society is firmly held in place by a narrative style at once bewildered and lucid—it has the air of a kind of deadpan tragedy, of the sort Kafka scared us with, and made us yearn for more," wrote the Bard Fiction Prize committee in a statement. “The Bard Fiction Prize has been anxious to celebrate innovation in the novel—and in Conn’s The Fixed Stars we found a perfect match of inventive fable with disquietingly radical storytelling. The prose sparkles with unique images, and the narrative itself is wonderful, at times wondrous even, and a highly original formal work, full of life.”

Conn’s fiction has appeared in both genre magazines and literary magazines, and The Fixed Stars was named one of Amazon’s ten best science fiction and fantasy books of 2010. In 2008, Conn cofounded the fiction journal Birkensnake at Brown University.

Established in 2001, the Bard Fiction Prize is given annually to an emerging writer under the age of forty for a work of innovative fiction. Last year Benjamin Hale received the prize for his novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore (Twelve, 2011). The deadline for the 2014 prize is July 15, 2013. Visit the Bard website for guidelines. 

The Whiting Foundation recently announced the winners of its 2012 literary awards, which offer ten grants of $50,000 to emerging poets, fiction writers, creative nonfiction writers, and playwrights.

The 2012 Whiting Award recipients include nonfiction writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts of New York City, whose first book, Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America (Little, Brown, 2011), was among the 100 Notable Books of 2011 by the New York Times Book Review and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award; poet Ciaran Berry of Hartford, Connecticut, whose first full-length collection, The Sphere of Birds, (Southern Illinois University Press, 2008) won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition in 2007; poet Atsuro Riley of San Francisco, whose first book, Romey’s Order (University of Chicago Press, 2010) won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Believer Poetry Award, and the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress; fiction writer Alan Heathcock of Boise, Idaho, whose short story collection Volt (Graywolf Press, 2011) was a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize; fiction writer Anthony Marra of Oakland, California, whose debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, and short story collection, The Tsar of Love and Techno, will be published in 2013 and 2014, respectively, by Hogarth Press; and fiction writer Hanna Pylväinen of New York City, whose debut novel, We Sinners, was published this past summer by Henry Holt.

Four playwrights, Danai Gurira, Samuel Hunter, Mona Mansour, and Meg Miroshnik also received the awards. 

The "no strings attached" grants are given to writers whose early work suggests a promising literary career to come. Past recipients of the Whiting Award have included Michael Cunningham, Mark Doty, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Tracy K. Smith, John Jeremiah Sullivan, David Foster Wallace, Colson Whitehead, and C. D. Wright.

The New York City-based Whiting Foundation has given the Whiting Awards annually since 1985. Candidates are nominated for the award by literary professionals, and an anonymous selection committee of accomplished writers, editors, and literary scholars appointed by the Whiting Foundation chooses the winners. There is no application process.

Hilary Mantel, author of the historical novel Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate) has been awarded the 2012 Man Booker Prize. This is her second win. 

Mantel first received the prize in 2009 for Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate), the first book in a trilogy of which Bring Up the Bodies is the second installment. Mantel is only the third author—after Peter Carey and J. M. Coetzee—and the first woman to win the prize twice, and is the first to win with a sequel. She receives an award of 50,000 British pounds.

The Wolf Hall trilogy surrounds Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII, and the eventual death of Anne Boleyn. In an announcement made last week on the Man Booker website, the judges said of Mantel’s work: “Her resuscitation of Thomas Cromwell—and with him the historical novel—is one of the great achievements of modern literature.”  

The book was selected from a shortlist that included Tan Twan Eng for The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books), Deborah Levy for Swimming Home (And Other Stories), Alison Moore for The Lighthouse (Salt), Will Self for Umbrella (Bloomsbury), and Jeet Thayil for Narcopolis (Faber & Faber). Peter Stothard, Dinah Birch, Amanda Foreman, Dan Stevens, and Bharat Tandon judged. 

Mantel is currently at work on the third and final installment in the trilogy, to be titled The Mirror and the Light, which will continue Cromwell's story until his execution in 1540.

In the video below from the Guardian, Mantel discusses her second Man Booker win. 

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