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G&A: The Contest Blog

The winners of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced last night in New York City. The winners include Ross Gay in poetry for Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press), Paul Beatty in fiction for The Sellout (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Maggie Nelson in criticism for The Argonauts (Graywolf Press), and Margo Jefferson in autobiography for Negroland (Pantheon).

Charlotte Gordon won in biography for Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (Random House), and Sam Quinones won in nonfiction for Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury). Kirstin Valdez Quade won the John Leonard Prize—given for an outstanding first book in any genre—for her 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. Wendell Berry, the author of eight novels, two story collections, twenty-eight books of poetry, and thirty-one books of nonfiction, received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

The finalists in poetry were 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 were 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 finalists in criticism were Ta-Nehisi Coates for Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau), Leo Damrosch for Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake (Yale University Press), Colm Tóibín for On Elizabeth Bishop (Princeton University Press), and James Wood for The Nearest Thing to Life (Brandeis University Press).

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

Established in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle Awards, which are among the most prestigious prizes for literature, are given annually for books published in the previous year. A board of twenty-four working newspaper and magazine critics and editors nominates and selects the winners each year. The 2014 winners included Claudia Rankine in poetry, Marilynne Robinson in fiction, and Roz Chast in autobiography.

Photos from left to right: Ross Gay (Jim Krause), Paul Beatty, Maggie Nelson, and Margo Jefferson

At a ceremony Wednesday night in New York City, Adam Johnson was named the  winner of the 2016 Story Prize for his collection Fortune Smiles (Random House). The $20,000 award is given annually for a short story collection published during the previous year.

The two runners-up for the prize were Charles Baxter for There’s Something I Want You to Do (Pantheon) and Colum McCann for Thirteen Ways of Looking (Random House). Each finalist received $5,000. The Story Prize Spotlight Award—an additional prize of $1,000, given for a collection of exceptional merit—went to Adrian Tomine for his collection of graphic short stories, Killing and Dying (Drawn & Quarterly). During Wednesday night’s event, all three finalists read from and discussed their work on stage with prize director Larry Dark.

Last November Fortune Smiles took home the National Book Award, which makes Johnson the first author to win the Story Prize and the National Book Award for the same title. He is also now the first author to have won the Story Prize, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize, which he received in 2013 for his novel The Orphan Master’s Son. Johnson is also the author of the story collection Emporium and the novel Parasites Like Us. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a California Book Award, among other accolades. He lives in San Francisco and teaches creative writing at Stanford University.

Dark and Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey selected the three finalists from among a hundred books submitted in 2015, from sixty-four different publishers. A panel of three judges selected the winner: author and previous Story Prize–winner Anthony Doerr; Rita Meade, a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library; and New Yorker staff writer Kathryn Schulz.

Fortune Smiles is an electrically imaginative story collection that’s wrestling very hard with the world we’re living in right now,” the judges said. “Johnson writes like Rembrandt painted, richly and specifically, with an inclination toward self-portrait and a gift for making it seem like a whole world carries on not only within but beyond each of these small canvasses.”

Established in 2004 to honor collections of short fiction and to attract more attention to the form, the Story Prize boasts the largest first-prize amount of any fiction award in the United States. Previous winners include Elizabeth McCracken, George Saunders, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Steven Millhauser.

Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

The recipients of the 2016 Windham Campbell Prizes for Literature have been announced. Administered by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the annual awards are given to English-language writers of fiction, nonfiction, and drama for outstanding literary achievement or great potential. Each writer receives $150,000.

The winners in fiction are Tessa Hadley (U.K.), C. E. Morgan (U.S.), and Jerry Pinto (India); the winners in nonfiction are Hilton Als (U.S.), Stanley Crouch (U.S.), and Helen Garner (Australia); and the winners in drama are Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (U.S.), Hannah Moscovitch (Canada), and Abbie Spallen (Ireland).

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.” The prizes are open to writers from anywhere in the world at all stages of their careers. There is no application process for the prize; the awards are made by a group of nominators, a three-member jury in each category, and a nine-member selection committee. Past winners have included Teju Cole, Geoff Dyer, John Jeremiah Sullivan, James Salter, and Naomi Wallace. The 2017 prizes will expand to include a poetry category.

The winners will receive their prizes during an international literary festival at Yale in September celebrating their work. All festival events are free and open to the public. For more information about the prizes and the 2016 winners, visit the Windham Campbell Prizes website.

Below, watch 2016 nonfiction winner Hilton Als deliver the keynote lecture at last year's Windham Campbell Prizes Festival.

Hilton Als' 2015 Windham-Campbell Lecture from Windham Campbell Prizes on Vimeo.

Photos: C. E. Morgan, Stanley Crouch, Hilton Als.

The University of Georgia Press has announced that poet Christopher Salerno of Caldwell, New Jersey, has won the inaugural Georgia Poetry Prize for his collection Sun & Urn. Salerno will receive a cash award of $1,000 and publication by the University of Georgia Press in February 2017. He will also be invited to read his work at the prize’s sponsoring institutions—the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State University—and will receive an additional $1,000, as well as travel expenses, for each reading.
Christopher Salerno is the author of three previous poetry collections: Whirligig (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2006); Minimum Heroic (Mississippi Review Press, 2010), which won the 2011 Mississippi Review Award; and ATM (Georgetown Review Press, 2014), which was selected by poet D. A. Powell for the 2014 Georgetown Review Poetry Prize. Salerno currently serves as associate professor in the creative writing and MFA programs at William Paterson University in New Jersey.

Thomas Lux, the final judge of this year’s award, said of Salerno’s manuscript, “Christopher Salerno’s Sun & Urn is a highly accomplished (he has learned his trade!), a madly imaginative, and, ultimately, a brilliant and deeply human book. Read it, please, thrice!”

The Georgia Poetry Prize is a national competition established in 2015 to celebrate poetic excellence. The prize is to be administered annually; submissions for next year’s prize will be accepted from October 1 to November 30. Visit the website for submission guidelines and more information.

The deadline has been extended for the upcoming Pacific Coast/Beyond Baroque Books Award, given for a poetry manuscript by a writer living in California, Oregon, or Washington. The winner will receive $2,000 and publication in the Pacific Coast Poetry Series, an imprint of Beyond Baroque Books. Beyond Baroque editors Suzanne Lummis and Henry Morro will judge.

To apply, submit a manuscript between 48 and 70 pages with a $5 submission fee via postal mail to Pacific Coast Poetry Series, Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA  90291, by May 1 (the original deadline was February 15). For more information, visit the website or e-mail Liz Camfiord at liz@beyondbaroque.org.

Beyond Baroque, a literary arts center dedicated to advancing public awareness and involvement in the literary arts, was established in 1968 as an avant-garde poetry magazine of the same name, which published emerging and overlooked writers, particularly from the Los Angeles area. Beyond Baroque Books was launched in 1998, and continues to “unearth cult rarities as well as collections by noted performance poets, educations, and cultural leaders.”

Submissions are currently open for the 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, an annual award given for a full-length manuscript by a poet living in the Upper Midwest. The winner receives $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions.
Administered in partnership with Milkweed Editions and the Lindquist & Vennum Foundation, the award was established in 2011 with the goal of celebrating the work of exceptional poets from the Upper Midwest; poets residing in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin are eligible to apply. The editors of Milkweed Editions will select five finalists, and acclaimed poet A. Van Jordan will select the winning manuscript.

To enter, submit one hard copy of an unpublished, book-length collection of poetry, along with a single-page cover sheet that includes contact, submission, and biographical information to: ATTN: Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, Milkweed Editions, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Open Book, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

The deadline to submit is March 1. There is no entry fee. The winner will be announced in April or May. Visit the website, or call the Milkweed Editions office at (612) 332-3192 for more information.

Milkweed Editions is one of the nation’s leading independent, nonprofit book publishers. Established in 1980, the publisher’s mission is to “identify, nurture, and publish transformative literature, and build an engaged community around it.” The press publishes fifteen to twenty titles per year.

Claremont Graduate University announced last week the finalists for the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. The annual award is given to honor a book by a midcareer poet. The finalists for the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, given annually for a debut poetry collection, were also announced.

The finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award are Kyle Dargan for Honest Engine (University of Georgia Press), Ross Gay for Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press), Amy Gerstler for Scattered at Sea (Penguin), Fred Moten for The Little Edges (Wesleyan), and Jennifer Moxley for The Open Secret (Flood Editions).

The finalists for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award are Meg Day for Last Psalm at Sea Level (Barrow Street), Bethany Schultz Hurst for Miss Lost Nation (Anhinga Press), Michael Morse for Void and Compensation (Canarium Books), Danez Smith for [insert] boy (YesYes Books), and Henry Walters for Field Guide a Tempo (Hobblebush Books).

The judges for both awards were Stephen Burt, Elena Karina Byrne, Brian Kim Stefans, Don Share, and judge chair Chase Twichell. The winners will be announced in March and honored at a ceremony in April at Pomona College in Claremont, California.

Previous winners of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, now in its twenty-fourth year, include Angie Estes, Afaa Michael Weaver, Marianne Boruch, Timothy Donnelly, and Chase Twichell. Previous winners of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, established in 1993, include Brandon Som, Yona Harvey, Heidy Steidlmayer, Katherine Larson, and Atsuro Riley.

Photos (clockwise from top left): Dargan (Dale Robbins), Gay (Zach Hetrick), Gerstler, Moxley, Moten

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