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G&A: The Contest Blog

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) announced the finalists for its 2015 awards yesterday. Poets Terrance Hayes and Ada Limón, fiction writers Lauren Groff and Anthony Marra, and nonfiction writers Ta-Nehisi Coates and Maggie Nelson are among the thirty finalists. The annual awards are given in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, criticism, autobiography, and biography.

The poetry finalists are Ross Gay for Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press), Terrance Hayes for How to Be Drawn (Penguin), Ada Limón for Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions), Sinéad Morrissey for Parallax: And Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and the late Frank Stanford for What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford (Copper Canyon Press).

The fiction finalists are Paul Beatty for The Sellout (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Lauren Groff for Fates and Furies (Riverhead), Valeria Luiselli for The Story of My Teeth (Coffee House Press), Anthony Marra for The Tsar of Love and Techno (Hogarth), and Ottessa Moshfegh for Eileen (Penguin Press).

The autobiography finalists are Elizabeth Alexander for The Light of the World (Grand Central Publishing), Vivian Gornick for The Odd Woman and the City (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), George Hodgman for Bettyville (Viking), Margo Jefferson for Negroland (Pantheon), and Helen Macdonald for H Is for Hawk (Grove Press).

Other finalists include Ta-Nehisi Coates for Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau) and Maggie Nelson for The Argonauts (Graywolf Press) for the criticism prize. Farrar, Straus and Giroux led the field with five of its titles nominated for awards. Small presses with titles up for awards include Graywolf Press, Copper Canyon Press, Coffee House Press, and Milkweed Editions.

The NBCC also announced that Kirstin Valdez Quade is the recipient of the John Leonard Prize for her debut story collection, Night at the Fiestas (Norton). Carlos Lozada, an associate editor and nonfiction book critic at the Washington Post, won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and writer Wendell Berry will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

First given in 1975, the National Book Critics Circle awards are nominated and selected by the NBCC board of directors, which is made up of twenty-four critics and editors. The 2014 winners included Claudia Rankine in poetry for Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press), Marilynne Robinson in fiction for Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Roz Chast in autobiography for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury). This year’s winners will be announced on March 17 at the New School in New York City.

Clockwise from top left: Hayes (MacArthur Foundation), Limón (Sarah Shatz), Groff (Megan Brown), Nelson (Harry Dodge), Coates (Liz Lynch), Marra

The finalists for the 2016 Story Prize have been announced. The author of the winning short story collection will receive $20,000, and the two runners-up will receive $5,000. This year, the Story Prize judges selected three finalists from a hundred submissions, representing sixty-four different publishers and imprints. The finalists are:

Charles Baxter is the author of five previous short story collections, and is a winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story. He has also published five novels. He lives in Minneapolis.

Colum McCann is the author of two previous short story collections, as well as six previous novels. He has won the National Book Award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, among others. He lives in New York City.

Adam Johnson’s story collection Fortune Smiles won the 2015 National Book Award for Fiction. His novel The Orphan Master’s Son won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the California Book Award. He lives in San Francisco.

Now in its twelfth year, the Story Prize was established in 2004 by Larry Dark and Julie Lindsey to honor collections of short fiction, and to attract more attention to the form. Each year Dark and Lindsey select the finalists, and a panel of authors select the winner. Anthony Doerr, Rita Meade, and Kathryn Schulz will be this year’s final judges. Elizabeth McCracken took last year’s prize for her collection Thunderstruck. The 2016 winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 2, at an award ceremony at the New School in New York City. Visit the Story Prize website for more information.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced the thirty-seven recipients of its 2016 Creative Writing Fellowships in prose. Each of the fellows will receive twenty-five thousand dollars for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement.

This year’s recipients are:

Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Dean Bakopoulos
Bill Cheng
Diane Cook
Lucy Corin
Michael Croley
Meghan Daum
Peter Ho Davies
Jack Driscoll
Jerry Gabriel
Kaitlyn Greenidge
Rav Grewal-Kök
Paul Harding
Jamey Hatley
Kevin Haworth
Nellie Hermann
Vedran Husić
Laleh Khadivi
R. O. Kwon
Joy Ladin
Éireann Lorsung
Anthony Marra
Monica McFawn
David Philip Mullins
Lenore Myka
Dina Nayeri
Celeste Ng
Téa Obreht
Mehdi Tavana Okasi
Leslie Parry
Joseph Rathgeber
Amy Rowland
Alison Stine
Aaron Thier
Samrat Upadhyay
Melissa Yancy
Mario Alberto Zambrano

The annual grants are given to emerging and established writers and alternate between poetry and prose.

“Since its inception, the creative writing fellowship program has awarded more than forty-five million dollars to a diverse group of more than three thousand writers, many of them emerging writers at the start of their careers,” said Amy Stolls, the NEA’s director of literature programs. “These thirty-seven extraordinary new fellows provide more evidence of the NEA’s track record of discovering and supporting excellent writers.”

A group of twenty-three readers and panelists chose the recipients from 1,763 applications. The 2017 fellowships will be given in poetry; the application deadline is March 9.

 

BuzzFeed has announced its four inaugural Emerging Writers Fellows: Chaya Babu, Tomi Obaro, Niela Orr, and Esther Wang. The fellows will each receive twelve thousand dollars, as well as mentorship from BuzzFeed editorial staff over the course of four months.

Chaya Babu is a New York City–based writer whose work focuses on race, migration, gender, and sexuality. She is working on a novel, and was the Asian American Writers’ Workshop 2015 Open City Fellow.

Tomi Obaro is a writer based in Chicago; she is an assistant editor at Chicago Magazine.

Neila Orr is a Philadelphia-based writer who is working on a book about the convergence of black pop culture and visual art.

Esther Wang is a writer based in New York City; she was the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Open City Creative Nonfiction Fellow in 2013.

The applicants were chosen from more than five hundred applications, said Saeed Jones, BuzzFeed’s executive editor of culture. “With each of these writers their work reintroduces you to what you thought you knew,” Jones told Paper. “When I go back to the work that all of these fellows are doing, that’s part of it—where a writer can point to an aspect of culture that you already recognize and then make a new constellation [out of all this information]. Like even if you’re aware of one of the stars that they’re mentioning, they talk about this, and this, and this, and all of a sudden you’re like “whoa” and your perspective is changed. That to me is the epitome of great culture writing.”

The fellows will begin at the BuzzFeed offices in New York City in January, and will focus on writing personal essays, profiles, and cultural criticism for the media company.

To learn more about the program, read Jones’s Q&A with Cat Richardson in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine

Photos (from left to right): Babu, Obaro, Orr, and Wang

Submissions are open for the inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. A prize of $10,000 and publication by Restless Books will be given annually for a book of prose by a first-generation resident of the United States. The prize will alternate between fiction and nonfiction; the 2015 prize will be given in fiction.

Writers who were born in another country and have relocated to the United States, as well as American-born residents whose parents were born in another country are eligible. Writers who have not published a full-length book of fiction with a U.S. publisher are eligible. Using the online submission system, submit a fiction manuscript of at least 45,000 words with a curriculum vitae by December 31. There is no entry fee.

The winners will be announced in May 2016. Restless Books will also publish the work of five finalists as a digital chapbook. Maaza Mengiste, Javier Molea, and Ilan Stavans will judge.

“We are looking for extraordinary unpublished submissions from emerging writers of sharp, culture-straddling writing that addresses American identity in a global age,” said Restless Books publisher Ilan Stavans, who is an immigrant from Mexico and an expert on Latino literature. “In novels, short stories, memoirs, and works of journalism, immigrants have shown us what resilience and family devotion we’re capable of, and have expanded our sense of what it means to be American. In these times of intense xenophobia, it is more important than ever that these stories reach the broadest possible audience.”

Established in 2013, the Brooklyn, New York–based Restless Books is committed to publishing international literature that “reflects the restlessness of our multiform lives.” Recent and forthcoming titles include Alfred MacAdam’s translation from the Spanish of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s novel Where the Bird Sings Best, Tim Wilkinson’s translation from the Hungarian of Györgo Spiró’s novel Captivity, and Githa Hariharan’s essay collection Almost Home: Finding a Place in the World From Kashmir to New York.

Submissions are currently open for the Center for Fiction’s third annual Christopher Doheny Award, a $10,000 prize given for a book-length work of fiction or nonfiction on the topic of life-threatening physical illness. The winner of the prize “must demonstrate high literary standards while exploring the impact of illness on the patient, family and friends, and others.”

In addition to the cash prize, the winner will receive production and promotion of the book in an audio format from Audible, Inc., and assistance from Audible to pursue print publication. This year’s judging panel includes writer Charles Bock, previous Doheny Award–winners Michelle Bailat-Jones (2013) and Mike Scalise (2014), and two representatives of Audible.

Fiction and nonfiction writers who have previously published works in literary journals, or have published a book with an independent or traditional publisher, are eligible to apply. Using the online submission system, submit a previously unpublished manuscript along with a list of previous publications, a synopsis of up to two pages, and a one-paragraph bio by December 15. Submissions can be made via postal mail to the Christopher Doheny Award, Center for Fiction, 17 E. 47th Street, New York, NY 10017. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Supported by Audible, Inc., and the friends and family of Christopher Doheny, who died of cystic fibrosis in 2013, the Center for Fiction’s Christopher Doheny Award recognizes literary excellence “by a writer who has personally dealt or is dealing with life-threatening illness, either his or her own or that of a close relative or friend.”

Photo: Christopher Doheny

On Wednesday night in New York City, the winners of the 2015 National Book Awards were announced. The poetry award went to Robin Coste Lewis for her collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus (Knopf). Adam Johnson took home the fiction award for his story collection Fortune Smiles (Random House). Ta-Nehisi Coates won in nonfiction for Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau). Neal Shusterman won in young people’s literature for Challenger Deep (HarperCollins). Each winner receives $10,000.

Robin Coste Lewis is a Provost’s Fellow in poetry and visual studies at the University of Southern California, and a Cave Canem fellow. Voyage of the Sable Venus is her debut poetry collection, which questions the historical idea and role of the black female figure in America.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and is the recipient of a 2015 MacArthur Genius grant. Between the World and Me is a meditation on race in America, written in the form of a letter to the author’s son. Coates dedicated his award to his friend Prince Jones, who was killed by a police officer in 2000. In his acceptance speech, Coates said, “I have waited fifteen years for this moment.”

Adam Johnson won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Orphan Master’s Son. He has received a Whiting Award and fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches creative writing at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco. In his winning collection, Fortune Smiles, Johnson “delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal.”

Publishers submitted 1,428 books for review this year: 419 in fiction, 494 in nonfiction, 221 in poetry, and 294 in young people’s literature. The awards are given annually to American writers who published books in the previous year. The finalists each receive $1,000.

Novelist Don DeLillo received the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for his lifetime contribution to American literature. Novelist Jennifer Egan introduced DeLillo, and said of his work, “He has an empath’s gift for capturing colloquial rhythm and speech…I’m so grateful to DeLillo for proving to my generation that fiction can still do anything it wants.” 

Meanwhile, James Patterson was presented with the Literarian Award for outstanding service in the American literary community. Patterson donated more than one million dollars in grants to independent bookstores last year, and has donated thousands of books to children and schools in need. Patterson said in his acceptance speech, “I feel compelled to help independent bookstores survive and prosper, and help school libraries any way that I can…let’s find a way to make sure there is another generation of readers out there.”

Read about the winners and finalists, and watch the full video from last night’s ceremony at the National Book Foundation website.

The National Book Foundation was founded in 1986 with the mission to “celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.”

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