Deadline Approaches for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Submissions are open for the 2021 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Established by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the prize offers $15,000 for a work of fiction by an emerging African American author in order to “support and enable the writer to focus on writing.” Travel expenses will be covered for an award ceremony in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on January 27, 2022. During the week of the ceremony, the winning writer is also asked to lead local students in writing workshops meant to inspire their creativity and interest in the arts.

Mail a completed registration form and eight copies of a published novel or short story collection (or galleys) to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation by August 15. Entries must be received by the deadline in order to be considered. Writers must be African American U.S. citizens and “not yet widely recognized for their work.” Only books published or scheduled for publication in 2021 are eligible. Anthony Grooms, Edward P. Jones, Elizabeth Nunez, Francine Prose, and Patricia Towers will judge. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines and the mailing address.

Named in honor of the celebrated Louisiana author Ernest J. Gaines, who died in 2019, the prize was conceived “to inspire and recognize rising African American writers of excellence as they work to achieve the literary heights for which Ernest J. Gaines is known.” Gabriel Bump earned the 2020 prize for his debut novel, Everywhere You Don’t Belong.