G&A: The Contest Blog

Debut Author From Boston Wins World's Richest Literary Prize

A debut novelist who was born and raised in Boston and lives in New York has been chosen from nearly 150 nominees from 41 countries as winner of this year's IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Michael Thomas won the prize—worth 100,000 euros, or nearly 140,000 dollars—for his first novel, Man Gone Down (Grove, 2007). He beat eight semifinalists, including Junot Díaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), and David Leavitt (The Indian Clerk).

This year, as has been the case so many times in the past, readers from every corner of the world have uncovered wonderful novels that otherwise may never have grasped public attention," Dublin mayor Éibhlin Byrne said yesterday. 

Previous winners of the award, given annually since 1996 for a single work of fiction published in English, include Colm Tóibín for The Master and Edward P. Jones for The Known World. Rawi Hage won last year for his debut novel, De Niro's Game.

Care to Kick Back in Frost's Old Farmhouse?

Looking for a place to write during the summer? Sure, you could hole up in your home office or sweet-talk the barista at your local coffee bar and claim the corner table as your own. But if you want a truly unique writing spot, consider Frost Place, the nonprofit educational center for poetry and the arts based at Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, New Hampshire. July 3 is the deadline for next year's Resident Poet Award. The prize of two thousand dollars and a two-month residency at Frost's old farmhouse is given annually to a poet who has published at least one poetry collection. 

This year's winner is Poets & Writers Magazine contributing editor Rigoberto González, who will be arriving in Franconia in early July and spend two months in the house where Frost and his family lived full-time from 1915 to 1920 and spent nineteen summers. The Frost Place has been awarding the residency for the past tweny-two years. Previous winners include Katha Pollitt, Robert Hass, William Matthews, Mary Jo Salter, Denis Johnson, Sherod Santos, Pattiann Rogers, Stanley Plumly, Jeffrey Skinner, B. H. Fairchild, Major Jackson, and Laura Kasischke.

Hey Louis Menand, T&W Is Looking for Essays on Creative Writing Education

By now you've probably read Louis Menand's article about creative writing programs in the current issue of the New Yorker—or read an article by someone who's read the Louis Menand article. From the first paragraph, in which Menand uses the phrase "ritual scarring and twelve-on-one group therapy" to describe the writing workshop, he's got your attention. One can assume Teachers & Writers Collaborative is looking for similarly captivating prose for its Bechtel Prize. The fifteen-hundred-dollar award is given annually for an essay that relates to creative writing education, literary studies, or the profession of writing. The deadline is June 30. 

If you need help getting your Bechtel essay-writing hat on, you might want to consider taking the poll over at the New Yorker's Book Bench: So far, 57% of respondents say they enjoyed their MFA experience, while only 49% consider the experience worth it.

Then again, you may want to avoid Menand's article and the poll altogether and write something from your own experience—especially if you've been scarred by that years-long, twelve-on-one therapy session. You have an MFA, right? Use it.

 

Marilynne Robinson Grabs the Orange for Home

Marilynne Robinson on Wednesday was named winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction at a ceremony in London. She won for her third novel, Home (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). "This year's Orange Prize winner has a luminous quality to it that has drawn all of the judges to a unanimous decision," said Fi Glover, chair of the judging panel. "The profound nature of the writing stood out, as has the ability of the writer to draw the reader into a world of hope, expectation, misunderstanding, love, and kindness." Robinson, who was chosen over finalists Ellen Feldman, Samantha Harvey, Samantha Hunt, Deidre Madden, and Kamila Shamsie, will receive £30,000 (nearly $44,000).

Also on Wednesday, Francesca Kay was named winner of the Orange Award for New Writers for An Equal Stillness (Weidenfeld and Nicolson). Judge Mishal Husain called the novel "a brilliant evocation of an artist struggling to meet the demands of her domestic life." Kay will receive a bursary, or scholarship, of £10,000 (approximately $14,645).

Six Years Later, the Finalist Wins Big

C. D. Wright, who was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize in 2003 for Steal Away but lost to Paul Muldoon, took the top honor this year for her twelfth book, Rising, Falling, Hovering. She will receive $50,000 Canadian, or approximately $45,950. Rising, Falling, Hovering was published last April by Copper Canyon, the same press that published W. S. Merwin's 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume The Shadow of Sirius. Wrighted edged out three other finalists, including Dean Young, whose collection Primitive Mentor was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The winner of the Canadian prize is A. F. Moritz for The Sentinel (House of Anansi Press). In September, both winners will be invited to Reykjavik, Iceland, to read at the International Literary Festival.

The announcements were made yesterday in Toronto at an awards ceremony hosted by Scott Griffin, founder of the prize, and Margaret Atwood, Carolyn Forché, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson, and David Young.

German poet and essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger was also honored at the ceremony with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Book Awards Celebrate Arab American Culture

The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, recently announced the winners of the 2008 Arab American Book Awards. The annual prizes are given to authors, editors, or illustrators of books "that preserve and advance the understanding, knowledge, and resources of the Arab American community" in order to inspire authors and educate readers about the community.

(Here's a little education from the press release: The twenty-two Arab countries are Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros Islands, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.)

The winner in poetry is Suheir Hammad for breaking poems (Cypher Books). Randa Jarrar won in fiction for A Map of Home: A Novel (Other Press). The winner in nonfiction is Moustafa Bayoumi for How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (Penguin Press). And poet Naomi Shihab Nye won in the category of children or young adult for Honeybee: Poems & Short Prose (Greenwillow Books).

Below is a video of Hammad at the Palestinian Festival of Literature in Ramallah last month.

 

Jericho Brown and Uwem Akpan Among Legacy Award Nominees

The Hurston/Wright Foundation recently released a list of nominees for the Legacy Awards, annual prizes given to writers of African descent for books of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and a first book of fiction published in the previous year.

The nominees in poetry are Jericho Brown for Please, Myronn Hardy for The Headless Saints, and Yusef Komunyakaa for Warhorses. The nominees in fiction are Uwem Akpan for Say You're One of Them, Jeffery Renard Allen for Holding Pattern: Stories, Breena Clarke for Stand the Storm, Rananarive Due for Blood Colony, James McBride for Song Yet Sung, and Jesmyn Ward for Where the Line Bleeds. Akpan and Ward's books are both debuts. 

The nominees in nonfiction are Sheryll Cashin for The Agitator's Daughter: A Memoir of Four Generations of One Extraordinary African-American Family, Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina for Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved Out of Slavery and into Legend, Paula J. Giddings for Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching, Marcus Reeves for Somebody Scream!: Rap Music's Rise to Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power, and Frank B. Wilderson III for Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid.

The winners in each category, to be announced in November, will receive three thousand dollars. The finalists will each receive fifteen hundred dollars.

Last year's winners were Kyle Dargan for his poetry collection Bouquet of Hungers, Junot Díaz for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Kwame Dawes for his debut book of fiction She's Gone, and Edwidge Danticat for her memoir Brother, I'm Dying.

Below is a video of Kayle Dargan reading a poem from Bouquet of Hungers.

 

Glück Picks Ken Chen For Yale Younger Poets Prize

A little over a year after being named executive director of the Asian American Writers' Workshop, Ken Chen can add another impressive line to his resumé. Yale University Press on Wednesday announced that he is winner of this year's Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. His first collection, Juvenilia, will be published next spring.

Chen, who succeeded Quang Bao at the New York City-based nonprofit organization, is the first Chinese American to win the prestigious poetry award in over twenty-five years. In a statement released by the Writers' Workshop, Chen credits the organization for giving him the support he needed to finish his first book. "It was the Workshop that led me to find a community of writers, who gave me the encouragement and mentorship I needed to complete my manuscript," he says.

Louise Glück chose Juvenilia for the award, which is given for a first collection by a poet under the age of forty. It was Glück's seventh pick as the series judge. Since 2004 she's chosen the following collections: It Is Daylight by Arda Collins, The Earth in the Attic by Fady Joudah, Frail-Craft by Jessica Fisher, Green Squall by Jay Hopler, Crush by Richard Siken, and The Cuckoo by Peter Streckfus.

Maxwell Perkins Award Goes to Doubleday's Gerald Howard

Before we get to Gerald Howard's well-deserved honor, one thing needs to be said at the outset: If you haven't read Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, A. Scott Berg's 1978 biography of the quintessential, old-school book editor who worked with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and Ernest Hemingway at Scribner's, go find a used hardcover somewhere—or pick up the recently reissued paperback. It's a great and—in hindsight, in some ways—sad book: They don't make editors like Maxwell Perkins anymore. Or maybe they do and they just work in an industry that hardly resembles the one depicted in Berg's biography. One thing's certain: They still make editors who are worthy of receiving an award bearing the name of the great editor. Nan A. Talese. Gary Fisketjon. Drenka Willen. Jonathan Galassi. And now, Gerald Howard.

Howard, vice president and executive editor of Doubleday, recently received the fifth annual Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction. Sponsored by New York City's Mercantile Library Center for Fiction, the award is given to an editor, publisher, or agent "who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the United States."

In Howard's long career in publishing, he's worked with such eminited authors as David Foster Wallace, Gordin Lish, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster, Ana Castillo, A. R. Ammons, and others. At Doubleday, where he's been since 1998, Howard has worked with Kate Christensen, Pat Barker, Walter Kirn, Chuck Palahniuk, and Gore Vidal. 

In announcing Howard as the winner, Peter Ginna, chairman of the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction, said, “Over the course of many years Gerald Howard has introduced and championed the work of a host of writers who have helped to push the boundaries of contemporary fiction. It's a pleasure to honor him with the 2009 Perkins Award.”

The award will be presented to Howard at the library's annual dinner on November 9.

James King Wins Second Annual Breakthrough Novel Award

Amazon and Penguin today named James King winner of the second annual Breakthrough Novel Award for Bill Warrington's Last Chance. "One of the best things you can say about a novel is that the story lingers after you finish it," said Sue Monk Kidd, a member of the contest's expert panel. "I have gone on thinking about this one without trying."

From the announcement: "King, an Ohio native and current resident of Wilton, Conn., has been a corporate communications specialist for the past 20 years, but dreamt of becoming a fiction writer since the age of six. In 2006, with the support and encouragement of his wife and two children, King decided to pursue his dream. He entered the Master of Arts program in creative writing at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., and when he completed his degree in May 2008, he had written most of what would become the novel Bill Warrington's Last Chance."

King will receive a publishing contract worth twenty-five thousand dollars from Penguin. This year's contest drew thousands of entries; the other finalists were Ian Gibson for "Stuff of Legends" and Brandi Lynn Ryder for "In Malice, Quite Close."

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