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G&A: The Contest Blog

Earlier today Sherman Alexie was named winner of the fifteen-thousand-dollar PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his "structurally inventive" short story collection War Dances (Grove Press). Judges Rilla Askew, Kyoko Mori, and Al Young selected Alexie's book, which interweaves poetry with prose, from among roughly 350 novels and short story collections nominated by publishers.

Also receiving honors are finalists Barbara Kingsolver, nominated for her novel The Lacuna (Harper); Lorraine M. Lopez, for Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories (BkMk Press); Lorrie Moore, for her novel A Gate at the Stairs (Knopf); and Colson Whitehead, for his novel Sag Harbor (Doubleday), each of whom will be awarded five thousand dollars. The honorees will all be celebrated at the thirtieth anniversary award ceremony on May 8 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., where the PEN/Faulkner Foundation is based.

Alexie, the first Native American to win the prize, joins a roster of award alumni that includes Kate Christensen, Ha Jin, Joyce Carol Oates, Joseph O'Neill, Ann Patchett, Annie Proulx, Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth, and John Updike.

 

Writer's Relief, a New Jersey–based company that provides submission services to writers, has announced the first of what will be annual scholarships to poets, fiction writers, and essayists. The Peter K. Hixson Scholarship will award three writers an A La Carte Plus package, a service that includes a vetted list of markets, as well as preparation of cover and query letters for writers to send to specific literary magazine editors and agents.

According to the Writer's Relief Web site, the service has assisted writers in placing work in journals including Zone 3, Chautauqua, Rio Grande Review, the MacGuffin, and Willard and Maple. The company values each Hixson scholarship at five hundred dollars.

The award is given in honor of the late Peter K. Hixson, a poet, fiction writer, choreographer, and speech-language pathologist who used the service. Excerpts of Hixson's work are posted online.

Writers may submit a sample in one category—poetry, short prose, or novel—via an online form. There is no fee to enter. More information about the award is available on the scholarship contest page.

Two writing competitions that had been administered by Eastern Washington University (EWU) Press in Spokane recently were shifted into the jurisdictions of two separate presses. The Blue Lynx Prize, given for a book of poetry, and the Spokane Prize for a short fiction collection are now housed at Lynx House Press and Willow Springs Books, respectively.

Lynx House Press, established in 1975 and for the past five years managed by EWU Press, is now going solo as a nonprofit outfit since the university elected to close its eponymous publisher. The school’s creative writing program will still have access to an in-house press, Willow Springs Books, a new publishing venture that serves as the lab for the program’s internship in literary editing.

Competition guidelines and the awards themselves haven’t changed, however. The prizes each offer two thousand dollars and publication of the winning manuscript. The deadline is approaching for the fiction award, which closes on April 1, and the poetry prize deadline is May 15.

In other contest news, Bellingham Review has extended the deadline for its poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction contests to April 1. 

On the heels of the announcement of the Orange Prize longlist today, a bit of insight into the judging process of the annual award, given for a novel by a woman writer, was revealed by chair of judges Daisy Goodwin. The British television producer told the Independent she was put off by an abundance of nominated books written around an "issue," derivative of the popular genre she called the "misery memoir," several centering on themes of rape and child abuse.

"The pleasure of reading counts for something...I don't think editors think enough about this pleasure," Goodwin told the U.K. newspaper. "If I read another sensitive account of a woman coming to terms with bereavement, I was going to slit my wrists."

Goodwin counted as exceptions Roopa Farooki's The Way Things Look to Me, the story of an autistic teenager; Amy Sackville's The Still Point, whose protagonist suffers from depression; and Hilary Mantel's Booker prize–winning historical novel Wolf Hall—all of which made the longlist. Joining Goodwin in winnowing the pile of nominated titles are rabbi and author Julia Neuberger, novelist and critic Michèle Roberts, journalist Miranda Sawyer, and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman.

Below is the list of semifinalists for the 2010 Orange Prize. The winner of the £30,000 (approximately $46,000) award will be announced on June 9.

Rosie Allison for The Very Thought of You (Alma Books)
Eleanor Catton for The Rehearsal (Granta)
Clare Clark for Savage Lands (Harvill Secker)
Amanda Craig for Hearts and Minds (Little, Brown)
Roopa Farooki for The Way Things Look to Me (Pan Books)
Rebecca Gowers for The Twisted Heart (Canongate)
M. J. Hyland for This is How (Canongate)
Sadie Jones for Small Wars (Chatto & Windus)
Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna (Faber & Faber)
Laila Lalami for Secret Son (Viking)
Andrea Levy for The Long Song (Headline Review)
Attica Locke for Black Water Rising (Serpent's Tail)
Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate)
Maria McCann for The Wilding (Faber & Faber)
Nadifa Mohamed for Black Mamba Boy (HarperCollins)
Lorrie Moore for A Gate at the Stairs (Faber & Faber)
Monique Roffey for The White Woman on the Green Bicycle (Simon & Schuster)
Amy Sackville for The Still Point (Portobello Books)
Kathryn Stockett for The Help (Fig Tree)
Sarah Waters for The Little Stranger (Virago)

In the video below, 2009 Orange Prize winner Marilyn Robinson discusses the complexity of father-son relationships, which she investigates in her winning third novel, Home.

The Lambda Literary Foundation announced its preliminary picks for the twenty-second annual Lambda Literary Awards. Eighty-two judges selected as finalists works of fiction, poetry, and memoir, as well as GLBT studies texts, anthologies, young adult literature, and books of drama, erotica, and genre fiction from a pool of 462 books—about 10 percent more than were nominated by publishers for last year's prizes.

The finalists are listed below by category. Winners will be named at a ceremony on May 27 at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Lesbian Poetry
Bird Eating Bird by Kristin Naca (HarperCollins)
Gospel by Samiya Bashir (Red Bone Press)
Names by Marilyn Hacker (W.W. Norton)
Stars of the Night Commute by Ana Božičević (Tarpaulin Sky Press)
Zero at the Bone by Stacie Cassarino (New Issues Poetry & Prose)

Gay Poetry
Breakfast with Thom Gunn by Randall Mann (University of Chicago Press)
The Brother Swimming Beneath Me by Brent Goodman (Black Lawrence Press)
The First Risk by Charles Jensen (Lethe Press)
Sweet Core Orchard by Benjamin S. Grossberg (University of Tampa Press)
What the Right Hand Knows by Tom Healy (Four Way Books)

Lesbian Debut Fiction
The Creamsickle by Rhiannon Argo (Spinsters Ink)
The Bigness of the World by Lori Ostlund (University of Georgia Press)
Land Beyond Maps by Maida Tilchen (Savvy Press)
More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson (HarperCollins)
Verge by Z Egloff (Bywater Books)

Gay Debut Fiction
Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal (Kensington Books)
God Says No by James Hannaham (McSweeneys)
Pop Salvation by Lance Reynald (HarperCollins)
Shaming the Devil: Collected Short Stories by G. Winston James (Top Pen Press)
Sugarless by James Magruder (University of Wisconsin Press)

Lesbian Fiction
Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon (HarperCollins)
A Field Guide to Deception by Jill Malone (Bywater Books)
Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory by Emma Pérez (University of Texas Press)
Risk by Elena Dykewomon (Bywater Books)
This One’s Going to Last Forever by Nairne Holtz (Insomniac Press)

Gay Fiction
Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre (HarperCollins)
The River in Winter by Matt Dean (Queen's English Productions)
Said and Done by James Morrison (Black Lawrence Press)
Salvation Army by Abdellah Taia (Semiotext(e))
Silverlake by Peter Gadol (Tyrus Books)

Lesbian Memoir and Biography
Called Back: My Reply to Cancer, My Return to Life by Mary Cappello (Alyson Books)
Mean Little Deaf Queer by Terry Galloway (Beacon Press)
My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement by Alix Dobkin (Alyson Books)
Likewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag by Ariel Schrag (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Fireside)
The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar (St. Martin’s Press)

Gay Memoir and Biography
Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back by Reynolds Price (Scribner Books)
City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960’s and 70’s by Edmund White (Bloomsbury USA)
Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division by Jon Ginoli (Cleis Press)
Once You Go Back by Douglas A. Martin (Seven Stories Press)
The Pure Lover: A Memoir of Grief by David Plante (Beacon Press)

Transgender Literature
Bharat Jiva, a poetry collection by Kari Edwards (Litmus Press)
Lynnee Breedlove’s One Freak Show, a humor collection by Lynn Breedlove (Manic D Press)
The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, an essay collection by S Bear Bergman (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Transmigration, a poetry collection by Joy Ladin (Sheep Meadow Press)
Troglodyte Rose, an illustrated science fiction book by Adam Lowe (Cadaverine Publications)

A host of literary honors were announced at the close of last week, including the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award, two world-spanning book prizes, and an award for Canadian fiction.

Last Thursday, Rae Armantrout took the NBCC prize in poetry for Versed (Wesleyan University Press), and Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel won for her novel Wolf Hall (Holt). Diana Athill's Somewhere Towards the End (Norton) won the prize in autobiography.

The international literature resource Three Percent, housed at the University of Rochester, awarded its Best Translated Book Award last week at Idlewild Books in New York City. The winner in poetry was Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version (Ugly Duckling Presse), translated from the Russian by Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandle. Gail Hareven's The Confessions of Noa Weber (Melville House), translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu, won in fiction. Three Percent gives the award to honor international books of poetry and fiction published in the United States during the previous year.

After a week of debates broadcast by Canada's Radio One, Montreal author Nicolas Dickner's novel Nikolski beat out four other titles to win the Canadian Broadcasting Company's Canada Reads competition. His book, translated from the French by Lazer Lederhendler, will be released in a U.S. trade paperback edition in May by Trumpeter Books.

Eight writers from nations of the British Commonwealth received regional book awards from the Commonwealth Foundation. The four regions represented are Africa, the Carribean and Canada, South Asia and Europe, and Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The winners for debut books are Adaobi Tricia Nwaubeni of Nigeria for I Do Not Come to You by Chance (Hyperion); Shandi Mitchell of Canada for Under This Unbroken Sky (Harper); Daniyal Mueenuddin from Pakistan for In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton); and Glenda Guest from Australia for Siddon Rock (Random House). Marié Heese of South Africa won Best Book for The Double Crown (Human & Rousseau); Michael Crummey of Canada won for Galore (Doubleday Canada); Rana Dasgupta of the United Kingdom won for Solo (Fourth Estate); and Albert Wendt of Samoa won for The Adventures of Vela (Huia). The winning debut titles from this round will go on to compete for a five-thousand-pound prize, and the "Best Book" honorees have the opportunity to win a ten-thousand-pound award, announced on April 12.

The Asian American Writers' Workshop (AAWW) in New York City is teaming up with San Francisco–based Hyphen magazine to present a short story contest for writers of Asian descent. Fiction writers living in the United States and Canada are eligible for the one-thousand-dollar prize, which also includes publication in Hyphen, a nonprofit news and culture magazine that seeks to "go beyond celebrity interviews and essays about discovering our roots, which we found a long time ago, thank-you-very-much" and offer "a more complex representation of Asian America."

The contest winner will also receive one-year of membership in the AAWW. The AAWW's members are offered discounts on event fees and books, a vote in the Members' Choice Workshop Award given annually to published writers, and access to other opportunities, including fellowships.

Writers may enter their stories, novellas, or novel excerpts that could be published as stand-alone pieces by March 31. Since its launch in 2007, the contest has reportedly received about two hundred entries per year. More details are on the Hyphen Web site.

In the video below, inaugural Asian American Short Story Prize winner Preeta Samarasan reads from her debut novel, Evening is the Whole Day.

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