G&A: The Contest Blog

Deadline Approaches for PEN/Catapult Fiction Prize

This Friday marks the deadline for editors to nominate stories for a new annual fiction prize. Sponsored by PEN America and Catapult, the inaugural PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers honors twelve emerging fiction writers for debut short stories published in the previous year. Twelve winning writers will each receive a prize of $2,000, and their stories will be included in an annual anthology, The PEN America Best Debut Short Stories, to be published by Catapult.

Debut stories published in online magazines, cultural websites, or print magazines distributed in the U.S. in 2016 are eligible. A debut story is defined by PEN as the writer’s first short story publication that has undergone an editorial review process and has been accepted and published by a publication with which the author is not professionally affiliated. Authors must be either U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents.

Using the online submission system, editors of participating publications may submit up to four stories of no more than 12,000 words each, along with the required eligibility and consent form, by Friday, November 11. Authors may not submit their own work. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The winners will be honored at the annual PEN Literary Awards ceremony in New York City.

Launched this year, the PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize aims to help launch the careers of new writers. The award is named for and supported by the family of Robert J. Dau, a Petoskey, Michigan–based arts advocate who passed away last year.

Kirkus Prize Winners Announced

Last night at a ceremony in Austin, Texas, Kirkus Reviews announced the winners of the third annual Kirkus Prize. Three awards of $50,000 each are given for a book of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature published in the previous year.


C. E. Morgan won the fiction award
for her second novel, The Sport of Kings (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Fiction writer Claire Messud, bookseller Annie Philbrick, and Kirkus Reviews critic Gene Seymour judged.

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Susan Faludi took home the nonfiction prize for In the Darkroom (Metropolitan). Writer Jim Piechota, bookseller Chris Schoppa, and journalist and novelist Héctor Tobar judged.

Jason Reynolds won the young readers’ literature prize for his novel As Brave As You (Caitlyn Dlouhy). Bookseller and author Elizabeth Bluemle, Kirkus critic and librarian Deborah D. Taylor, and National Book Award–winning author Jacqueline Woodson judged. 

The winners were selected from 1,154 titles that received a Kirkus starred review between November 1, 2015, and October 31, 2016, for fiction and nonfiction, and between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016, for young readers’ literature.

One of the world’s richest literary awards, the Kirkus Prize was established in 2014 to honor the eighty-first anniversary of Kirkus Reviews, a publication that today provides review coverage of more than seven thousand commercially published books, as well as more than three thousand self-published books, each year. For more information about the prize, as well as a list of finalists in each category, visit the Kirkus Reviews website.

(Photos from left: C. E. Morgan, Susan Faludi, Jason Reynolds)

Deadline Approaches for Dylan Thomas Prize

The deadline approaches for the International Dylan Thomas Prize, given annually for a book of poetry or fiction published in English in the previous year by an author between the ages of 18 and 39. The winner will receive £30,000.

Publishers may submit ten copies of a book published between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016, along with the required entry form, by Friday, November 4. Entries should be mailed to the International Dylan Thomas Prize, c/o Dr. Elaine Canning, Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, Keir Hardie Building, Room 405c, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK.

There is no entry fee. Translations and self-published books are ineligible. E-mail or visit the website for complete guidelines.

The International Dylan Thomas Prize was established in 2006 in honor of Dylan Thomas, who, according to the website, was: “the quintessential adolescent writer, ideally suited to serve as an inspiration to young writers everywhere. The freshness and immediacy of his writing were qualities that he never lost. The Prize seeks to ensure that readers today will have the chance to savour the vitality and sparkle of a new generation of young writers.”

Recent winners of the prize include Max Porter for his novel, Grief Is a Thing With Feathers (Graywolf, 2016), Joshua Ferris for his novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Little, Brown, 2014), and Claire Vaye Watkins for her story collection Battleborn (Riverhead, 2012).

The 2017 winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in Swansea, Wales, in May.

Marilyn Nelson Wins Neustadt Prize

Poet, children’s book author, and translator Marilyn Nelson has won the 2017 Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. The biennial award recognizes a “storied career exploring history, race relations, and feminism in America,” and carries with it a $25,000 purse.
Ohio-born Nelson, who currently serves as professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut, has written or translated more than a dozen works, and has received honors including the Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Honor, and the Pushcart Prize. In addition to her awards, Nelson has served as the poet laureate of Connecticut, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Poetry Society of America.

Robert Con Davis-Undiano, the executive director of World Literature Today who oversees the prize, said in a press release of Nelson’s work, “Her engaging, lyrical style builds awareness around sensitive issues through human, and even humor storytelling that both children and adults can relate to.”

Established in 2003, the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature honors a living writer or author-illustrator who has made significant achievements in the field. Funding for the award is provided by Nancy Bercelo, Susan Neustadt Shwartz, and Kathy Neustadt, and the prize is sponsored by World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma–based magazine of international literature. Previous winners include Vera B. Williams, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and Naomi Shihab Nye.

Upcoming Creative Nonfiction Contest Deadlines

Are you a nonfiction writer? Looking to publish an essay, or in search of funding to finish your book? If so, there’s a writing contest for you—and several of them have deadlines within the next few days. So get to work this weekend, and check out these contests with November 1 deadlines.

If you’re an emerging writer looking for experience and mentorship in New York City, A Public Space’s annual Emerging Writer Fellowships might be right for you. Each fellowship includes $1,000, publication in A Public Space, a six-month mentorship with an established author, and optional workspace in the journal's Brooklyn, New York, office from March 2017 to September 2017. There is no application fee.

Looking to publish an essay? Reed Magazine’s Gabriele Rico Challenge in Creative Nonfiction offers an annual prize of $1,333 and publication of an essay of up to 5,000 words (with a $15 entry fee). Similarly, the Briar Cliff Review offers an annual prize of $1,000 and publication for an essay of up to 5,000 words (with a $20 entry fee).

Want to travel abroad to finish your book? There’s a contest for that. The American-Scandinavian Foundation offers annual writing fellowships of up to $23,000 and grants of up to $5,000 to creative nonfiction writers for study and research in Scandinavia. The application fee is $60. Meanwhile, the American Academy in Rome’s annual Rome Prize— which includes a $28,000 stipend, lodging, workspace, and most meals—allows writers to spend eleven months at the American Academy in Rome. It’s open to nonfiction writers who have published either a book or at least five essays or memoir excerpts in two or more literary journals, magazines, or anthologies. The application fee is $40.

For study in the United States, Washington College’s Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship confers a nine-month fellowship, which includes a stipend of $45,000, at the C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, to a nonfiction writer working on a book that addresses the history or legacy of the American Revolution and the nation’s founding ideas. There is no application fee.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines and submission details. For more upcoming contests, check out our Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines for Fiction Writers

The deadline approaches for several contests for fiction writers. Below is a roundup of fiction contests—for everything from flash fiction and stories to full-length manuscripts and published books—with deadlines of October 31 or November 1.

For emerging story writers, check out Glimmer Train Press’s Short Story Award for New Writers, given for a short story by a writer whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation of more than 5,000. The winner will receive $2,500 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories; the deadline is October 31.

You might also try your luck with the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards, one of which will be given for a short story or novel excerpt. The winner will receive $1,000 and an invitation to participate in a panel discussion at the annual Tucson Festival of Books and attend a workshop on the University of Arizona campus in March 2017. The deadline is October 31.

Story writers may also consider a handful of contests with a November 1 deadline that offer at least $1,000 and publication of a story, including the Madison Review’s Fiction Prize, the Malahat Review’s Open Season Award in Fiction, and Reed Magazine’s John Steinbeck Fiction Award.

For writers working on a novel or who have published a novel, the Dana Awards offer a prize of $2,000 for a novel or novel-in-progress; the deadline is October 31. Writers with a book of fiction published in 2016 can also submit to PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s annual Award for Fiction, a $15,000 prize given for a short story collection, novella, or novel published in the preceding year. The deadline is October 31.

And for those seeking publication of their fiction manuscript, several contests with November 1 deadlines offer at least $1,000 and publication. The $1,000 Washington Writers Publishing House Fiction Prize is given annually for a story collection or novel by a writer who lives in Washington D.C., or in Maryland or Virginia within a 75-mile radius of the U.S. Capitol. Fiction Collective Two is administering two prizes for story collections, novellas, novella collections, or novels: the $15,000 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize, given to a writer who has published at least three books of fiction, and the $1,500 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest, open to all fiction writers.

Visit the prize websites for complete guidelines. For more contests with upcoming deadlines, visit our Grants & Awards Database, and check out the Submission Calendar.

Paul Beatty Wins Booker Prize

Paul Beatty has been awarded the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel The Sellout (Oneworld), a satirical look at race in America. Beatty will receive £50,000 (approximately $61,000).

Beatty, fifty-four, is the first American author to win the prize. Of his winning book, 2016 chair of judges Amanda Foreman said, “The Sellout is a novel for our times. A tirelessly inventive modern satire, its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.” 

The Sellout was selected from a shortlist of finalists that included Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton), Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project (Contraband), Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen (Jonathan Cape), David Szalay’s All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape), and Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books). Each finalist receives £2,500 (approximately $3,050). 

“I can’t tell you how long this journey has been,” Beatty said in his acceptance speech, at the Man Booker awards ceremony this evening in London. “Writing has given me a life.” 

In addition to its Booker win, The Sellout received the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.

This is the third year that the Man Booker Prize, established in 1969, has been open to any novel written in English and published in Britain, after having previously been given only to writers from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Previous winners include Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey, and Marlon James. 

(Photo: Paul Beatty, Credit: Alex Welsh)

October Poetry Contest Deadlines

The end of October is fast approaching, and with it comes not only Halloween but also a number of contest deadlines. Today we’re rounding up poetry contests with October 31 deadlines that offer at least $1,000 and publication. Whether you have a single poem, a chapbook-length collection, or a full-length manuscript ready to submit, don’t let these passing deadlines haunt you.

If you’re looking for a contest for a single poem, submit to the James Hearst Poetry Prize, which includes $1,000 and publication in the Spring 2017 issue of the North American Review. Award-winning poet Major Jackson will judge. Submit up to five poems along with a $20 application fee, which includes a subscription to the North American Review.

Ready those chapbook manuscripts and submit to the Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize, which includes $1,000 and publication by Tupelo Press. The winner will also give a reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in Connecticut. Poet Maggie Smith will judge. Submit a manuscript of 20 to 36 pages with a $25 entry fee.

Kentucky-based Finishing Line Press hosts an annual open chapbook prize of $1,000 and publication. Submit a manuscript of up to 30 pages and a $15 entry fee.

Looking to publish a full-length book? Elixir Press sponsors an annual prize of $2,000 and publication for a poetry collection. A second-place prize of $1,000 and publication is also awarded. Jane Satterfield will judge. Submit a manuscript of at least 48 pages with a $30 application fee.

The Vassar Miller Prize awards $1,000 and publication by University of North Texas Press annually for a poetry collection. A. E. Stallings will judge. Submit a manuscript of 50 to 80 pages with a $25 entry fee.

Visit the prize websites for complete application guidelines. For more contests with upcoming deadlines, visit the Grants & Awards Database, and check out the Submission Calendar.

Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

In a surprising decision out of Stockholm this morning, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for, in the words of the Swedish Academy, which administers the prize, “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Dylan, 75, is the first musician to win the award, and the first American to win since novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993. The decision comes as something of a shock to the literary world: Although Dylan has been included in prize predictions for the past few years—along with perennial favorites Don DeLillo, Haruki Murakami, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and the poet Adonis—his chances were considered outside at best, as, some argue, his work misses the mark in the categories that the prize traditionally honors—poetry, novels, and short stories.

In the wake of the announcement, the literary Internet is grappling with this very question. At Literary Hub, Lisa Levy considers Dylan's artistic identity and the “Poet vs. Songwriter vs. Showman” debate. At the Guardian, meanwhile, Richard Williams defends the Academy’s decision, extolling the many reasons why Bob Dylan deserves the Nobel.

Naturally, many writers also took to Twitter as the announcement came in. Salman Rushdie tweeted: “From Orpheus to Faiz, song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition. Great choice.” Mary Karr also showed support of the decision:

Others were not so supportive.

The Washington Post rounds up more writers’ responses to the Nobel decision.

Dylan, who was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941, has written and recorded dozens of albums “revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love,” the Academy writes. “The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title ‘Lyrics.’” In addition to his records, Dylan has also produced experimental work like Tarantula, a 1971 collection of prose poetry, and the 1973 compliation Writings and Drawings. The first volume of his autobiography, Chronicles, was published in 2004.

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded since 1901 to writers who have produced “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” In that time, 114 writers have received the award. (Only 14 have been women. This year, every Nobel Prize, across all disciplines, went to men.) Belarussian journalist Svetlana Alexievich won last year’s prize; French novelist Patrick Modiano won in 2014; and Canadian short story writer Alice Munro won in 2013. The annual prize carries with it a purse of 8 million Swedish kronor, or approximately $900,000.

In announcing the prize this morning, Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, called Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition,” comparing him to Homer and Sappho. When asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician meant an expansion of the definition of literature, Danius responded, “The times they are a-changing, perhaps.”

What do you think? Weigh in with a comment below, or send us a tweet @poetswritersinc.

Finalists for National Book Awards Announced

The National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2016 National Book Awards. The annual prizes are given for books of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and young people’s literature published in the previous year. The winners receive $10,000; each finalist receives $1,000. The winners will be announced on November 16 at an awards ceremony in New York City.

The finalists in poetry are:
Daniel Borzutzky, The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press)
Rita Dove, Collected Poems 1974–2004 (Norton)
Peter GizziArcheophonics (Wesleyan University Press)
Jay Hopler, The Abridged History of Rainfall (McSweeney’s)
Solmaz SharifLook (Graywolf Press)

Mark Bibbins, Jericho Brown, Katie Ford, Joy Harjo, and Tree Swenson judged.

The finalists in fiction are:
Chris Bachelder
The Throwback Special (Norton)
Paulette JilesNews of the World (William Morrow)
Karan MahajanThe Association of Small Bombs (Viking)
Colson WhiteheadThe Underground Railroad (Doubleday)
Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn (Amistad)

James English, Karen Joy Fowler, T. Geronimo Johnson, Julie Otsuka, and Jesmyn Ward judged.

The finalists in nonfiction are:
Arlie Russell HochschildStrangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (The New Press)
Ibram X. KendiStamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books)
Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Harvard University Press)
Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Heather Ann ThompsonBlood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Pantheon Books)

Cynthia Barnett, Masha Gessen, Greg Grandin, and Ronald Rosbottom judged. 

The longlists for the awards were announced in September. Established in 1950, the National Book Awards are among the literary world’s most prestigious prizes. The 2015 winners were Robin Coste Lewis in poetry for Voyage of the Sable Venus (Knopf), Adam Johnson in fiction for Fortune Smiles (Random House), and Ta-Nehisi Coates in nonfiction for Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau).

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