G&A: The Contest Blog

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."

Alice Munro Wins Man Booker International Prize

Chosen from a group of fourteen finalists that included American authors Evan S. Connell, E. L. Doctorow, and Joyce Carol Oates, Canadian author Alice Munro today was named winner of the third Man Booker International Prize. "I am totally amazed and delighted," the seventy-seven-year-old fiction writer said. The biannual award, sponsored by Man Group, the investment company and hedge fund that sponsors the annual Man Booker Prize, is worth around eighty-five thousand dollars.

The judges were Amit Chaudhuri, Andrey Kurkov, and Jane Smiley, who wrote in a joint statement: “Alice Munro is mostly known as a short story writer and yet she brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels. To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before.”

Munro, who lives in Clinton, Ontario, near Lake Huron, is the author of seventeen books, including Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), The Beggar’s Maid (1980), Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001), and Away From Her (2007). Her next collection of short stories, Too Much Happiness, will be published in October.

Below is a short interview with Munro that was produced in 2004, around the time her story collection Runaway was published. 

 

Ten-thousand-dollar Prizes Awarded for French Translations

The French-American Foundation and the Florence Gould Foundation announced today the winners of the twenty-second-annual translation prizes for fiction and nonfiction. The awards of ten thousand dollars each were given for English translations of French prose published last year. Jody Gladding and Elizabeth Deshays won in fiction for their translation of Small Lives (Archipelago Books) by Pierre Michon. Matthew Cobb and Malcolm DeBevoise won in nonfiction for Life Explained (Yale University Press/Odile Jacob) by Michel Morange. The winners will be honored tonight at a ceremony at the Century Association in New York City.

“These translation awards are an important opportunity to bring publishing professionals, translators and writers together to draw public attention to outstanding translations of literary works—which can often go unnoticed,” said French-American Foundation program director Emma Archer in a press release. “Translation is key to perpetuating an ongoing conversation between cultures and to promote the circulation of literary works at a time where the dominant language is English."

Jurors for this year's competition were Linda Asher, Tom Bishop, Antoine Compagnon, Linda Coverdale, Richard Howard, and Lily Tuck. 

Two Texas Fellowship Winners Headed to the Paisano Ranch

The University of Texas, Austin, recently announced that Sarah Bird and Diane Wilson are the winners of this year's Dobie Paisano Writing Fellowships. Both will receive a four-month stay at Paisano, a retreat west of Austin, and a monthly stipend of five thousand dollars. The fellowships, sponsored by the University of Texas and the Texas Institute of Letters, allow Texas writers (or writers who have written significantly about Texas) to live and work at the late J. Frank Dobie’s 254-acre ranch.

And just who, exactly, was J. Frank Dobie? He was an old-school Texan who wrote a bunch of books, including Cow People (1964) and Rattlesnakes (1965), that depicted the good life in rural Texas. But don't take my word for it; watch the well-groomed gentleman in the video below. 

Student Writing Contest Looking for Thoughts on the Recession

This time of year you can almost feel the collective anxiety of students across the country who already have or will soon graduate and face the job market. And this year, of course, nerves are a little more frayed than usual. As short story writer Donald Ray Pollock said, as he accepted the PEN American Center's $35,000 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship a couple nights ago, “This is a big deal for me. And it couldn’t come at a better time. I’m getting ready to get out of graduate school, and there are no jobs out there."

It may not be worth as much as Pollack's new fellowship, but the Nation has a contest that will help a couple winners out with a thousand dollars each—and, perhaps more important, publication in a weekly magazine with a circulation of around 180,000. This year's Nation Student Writing Contest, sponsored by the BIL Charitable Trust, aims to "recognize and reward the best in student writing and thinking." Matriculating high school students and undergraduates at American schools, colleges, and universities—as well as those receiving either high school or college degrees in 2009—are invited to submit essays of no more than eight hundred words that answer the following question:

How has the recession affected you, your family, or someone you know?

Two winners, one from high school and one from college, will receive a thousand dollars and a subscription to the Nation; five finalists will receive two hundred dollars and subscriptions. The winners will be published in the magazine and online; the finalists, only online.

The deadline is May 31. The winners will be announced September 15. Click here for complete guidelines.

 

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