Jurors for the $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize have narrowed the more than 170 submissions down to a short list of five novels competing for the biannual award, one of the richest in the United States.
The books and authors are:
- Carry the One (Simon & Schuster), by Carol Anshaw
- The Middlesteins (Grand Central Publishing), by Jami Attenberg
- Mule (Mariner Books), by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000-02, Madagascar 2002-03)
- The Right-Hand Shore (Picador), by Christopher Tilghman
- Dirt (Harper Perennial), by David Vann
The winner will be announced at the opening gala for the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 21.
“It’s a prize that has no parallel really among existing literary prizes and comes at a perfect time in a writer’s career,” said Jonathan Dee, a member of the jury and winner of the second Literary Prize for his novel, The Privileges. “There’s a lot of attention when you make your debut. There’s a lot of attention if you’re lucky when you die, but in between sometimes you’re a little bit at sea.”
The other two jury members were acclaimed authors Peter Cameron (Coral Glynn, Andorra, The Weekend) and Kate Christensen (The Great Man, The Astral, Trouble).
Carry the One, by Carol Anshaw tells the story of Carmen, her family and the car accident that impacted their lives for the next 25 years.
The Middlesteins, by Jami Attenberg, is about a family in the Chicago suburbs that is splintering apart because of the matriarch’s obsession with food.
Mule: A Novel of Moving Weight, by Tony D’Souza, follows James and Kate who enter the world of illicit drugs to weather an economic downturn and unexpected pregnancy.
The Right-Hand Shore, by Christopher Tilghman, continues the story begun in Mason’s Retreat as the Mason family and their former slaves attempt to create a new community after the Civil War.
Dirt, by David Vann, follows struggling twenty-two-year-old Galen as he deals with his emotionally dependent mother, encroaching extended family and his own manic binges
The first Literary Prize was handed out in 2009 to Aleksandar Hemon for his collection of short stories, Love and Obstacles.
The St. Francis College Literary Prize is open to mid-career authors who publish their third to fifth work of fiction within the two-year window for the prize. Self-published books and English translations are considered. More information is available on the St. Francis College website.
The award is part of the College’s larger mission to support writers in Brooklyn and beyond. The College brings numerous authors to campus every year through events like the Walt Whitman Writers Series, including: E.L. Doctorow, Pete Hamill, Julie Orringer, Jonathan Lethem and Nikki Giovanni.
The Brooklyn Book Festival is the day after the gala on Sunday, September 22 from 10:00AM to 6:00PM. Brooklyn Borough Hall is the center of the festivities with dozens of panels and appearances by authors at St. Francis College, just up the street.
About the Authors
Carol Anshaw’s previous novels are: Lucky in the Corner, Seven Moves, and Aquamarine. Her short stories have been published in VLS, New Ohio Review, Tin House, and the 1994, 1998 and 2012 editions of Best American Short Stories. Anshaw has won the Carl Sandburg, Society of Midland Authors, and Ferro-Grumley awards for fiction and is a past fellow of the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches in the MFA in Writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Also a painter, Anshaw lives in Chicago and in Amsterdam with her partner, the filmmaker Jessie Ewing.
Jami Attenberg has written about sex, technology, design, books, television, and urban life for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, Print, Nylon, Details.com, Esquire.com, and others.
Jami believes in the power and importance of independent publishing and self-publication, whether online or in print. She has been published by a number of zines, and her chapbook, Deli Life, was published by Austin upstart So New Media in 2003. Her blog, whatever-whenever.net, has been in existence in various forms since 1998.
Her previous books are a collection of stories, Instant Love (Crown/Shaye Areheart Books) and two novels published by Riverhead Books, The Kept Man and The Melting Season. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000-02, Madagascar 2002-03) was born and raised in Chicago. After a summer bicycling alone across Alaska, he attended Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, interned for a DC defense policy think tank, worked construction in Europe and the Middle East, and completed Masters degrees in writing from Hollins University and the University of Notre Dame. Tony then served three years in the Peace Corps in West Africa and Madagascar, where he was a rural AIDS educator, witnessing the outbreak of civil war in Ivory Coast.
Tony has contributed to The New Yorker, Playboy, Salon, Mother Jones, and Esquire, among others, and has appeared on venues including; Dateline, The Today Show, the BBC, and NPR. He received an NEA, an NEA Japan Friendship Fellowship, and a Guggenheim.
Christopher Tilghman’s life has revolved around his family’s farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His new novel, The Right-Hand Shore (Macmillan) and its sequel Mason’s Retreat tell the multigenerational story of a farm on the Eastern Shore modeled after his own. His other books include the novel Roads of the Heart, and the short story collections, In a Father’s Place and The Way People Run. Chris is a Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia. He and his wife, the writer Caroline Preston, divide their time between Charlottesville and the Eastern Shore.
David Vann was born in the Aleutian Islands and spent his childhood in Ketchikan, Alaska. Published in 19 languages, Vann’s past works include; Legend of a Suicide, Caribou Island, the memoir, A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea, and the non-fiction, Last Day On Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Financial Times, and other magazines and newspapers. A former Guggenheim fellow, National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Wallace Stegner fellow, and John L’Heureux fellow, he is currently a Professor at the University of Warwick in England.
Vann’s next novel, Goat Mountain, will be published in September 2013.
About the Jury
Jonathan Dee teaches in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University and the New School. He is also a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, a frequent contributor to Harper’s, and a former senior editor of The Paris Review.
Peter Cameron’s books The Weekend, The City of Your Final Destination, and Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, have all been made into feature films with additional plans for Andorra. He has taught at Oberlin, Columbia, Yale and The New School.
Kate Christensen just release her new memoir, Blue Plate Special. In addition to her six novels, her reviews, columns and essays have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, Bookforum, Tin House and Elle.