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October 2019 Award-Winning Books

Published October 30, 2019 Posted by

2019 october prize winnersToday we’re bringing you a tall stack of award-winning fiction and poetry books published this past month.

Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Driving in Cars with Homeless Men by Kate Wisel, was released at the start of the month. Prize judge Min Jin Lee says of the selection: “You can hear the crackle of heat and the roar of a powerful fire burning through these pages. Young angry women, brokenhearted mothers, and men who are lost to themselves and others struggle in the world of Driving in Cars with Homeless Men.”

Ashley Wurzbacher’s Happy Like This won the 2019 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Judge Carmen Maria Machado says of the debut story collection: “these dark, lyrical, sinewy stories about women’s relationships with their bodies and with each other” “surprised [her] at every turn.”

Emily Wortman-Wunder won the 2019 Iowa Short Fiction Award with Not a Thing to Comfort You. Also judged by Machado, she calls the collection funny and inventive with “such careful attention paid to these stories, to people and the environment alike.”

Leanna Petronella took home the 2018 Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry with the collection The Imaginary Age. The stories the poems tell are of loss, though Petronella refuses to romanticize grief, instead highlighting the many guises and contours of grief’s ugliness.

Avery Colt is a Snake, A Thief, A Liar by Ron Austin won the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel (submissions currently open until November 15). The semi-autobiographical linked short story collection is charged with urgency and emotion as it follows the misadventures of Avery Colt as he struggles to survive in North St. Louis.

Haesong Kwon’s The People’s Field won the 2018 Cowles Poetry Prize. Jenny Yang Cropp made the final selection for the prize and says, “These poems, short and spare, carry the intensity of distillation but resist the epigrammatic as they show us a rich and complex landscape that asks for and earns.”

Mid-month saw the release of The Lightness of Water & Other Stories by Rhonda Browning White, winner of the 2019 Press 53 Award for Fiction (open until December 31). Selected by Press 53 publisher and editor-in-chief Kevin Morgan Watson, the short story collection is “down-to-earth, driven by strong characters, especially women, who speak a deep truth about the human condition and our relationships with one another and the world.”

Bruce Weigl brought home the prize for the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award with his poetry collection On the Shores of Welcome Home. In these poems, Weigl meditates on the ghosts and the grace one encounters in life’s second act.

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