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SFC Literary Prize

The SFC Literary Prize will not be offered in 2021 because of the pandemic and limited campus access. Please check the website again for more information. Any additional questions, please contact Dr. Ian S. Maloney, Director of the SFC Literary Prize: [email protected]

2019 SFC Literary Prize Finalists

SFC Literary Prize Jury 2019

  • Chris Abani
  • Ron Currie
  • Kate Christensen

Samantha Hunt Wins 2019 SFC Literary Prize for THE DARK DARK

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Past Winners

  • 2017: Dana Spiotta, Innocents and Others
    (Jury: Ellen Litman, Jeffery Renard Allen, René Steinke)
  • 2015: Maud Casey, The Man Who Walked Away
    (Jury: Sigrid Nunez, Erin McGraw, Daniel Torday
  • 2013: David Vann, Dirt
    (Jury: Peter Cameron, Jonathan Dee,Kate Christensen)
  • 2011: Jonathan Dee, The Privileges
    (Jury: Rick Moody, Darcey Steinke, Francine Prose)
  • 2009: Aleksandar Hemon, Love and Obstacles
    (Jury: Heidi Julavits, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, Ben Marcus


2017 Shortlist

  • Amina Gautier, The Loss of All Lost Things (Elixir Press)
  • Mohsin Hamid, Exit West (Riverhead Books)
  • Adam Haslett, Imagine Me Gone (Little, Brown and Company)
  • Selah Saterstrom, Slab (Coffee House Press)
  • Dana Spiotta, Innocents and Others (Scribner)
  • Deb Olin Unferth, Wait Till You See Me Dance (Graywolf Press)

2015 Shortlist

  • Paul Beatty, The Sellout (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
  • Maud Casey, The Man Who Walked Away (Bloomsbury USA)
  • Stuart Dybek, Paper Lantern (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)
  • David Gilbert, & Sons (Random House)
  • Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead)
  • René Steinke, Friendswood (Riverhead)

2013 Shortlist

  • Carol Anshaw, Carry the One (Simon & Schuster)
  • Jami Attenberg, The Middlesteins (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Tony D'Souza, Mule (Mariner Books)
  • Christopher Tilghman, The Right-Hand Shore (Picador)
  • David Vann, Dirt (Harper Perennial)

2011 Shortlist

  • Kevin Brockmeier, The Illumination (Pantheon)
  • Joshua Cohen, Witz (Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Jonathan Dee, The Privileges (Random House)
  • Yiyun Li, Gold Boy Emerald Girl (Random House)
  • Marlene van Niekerk, Agaat (Tin House Books)
  • Brad Watson, Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives (W. W. Norton & Company)

2009 Shortlist

  • Chris Abani, Song For Night (Akashic Books)
  • Aleksandar Hemon, Love and Obstacles (Riverhead Books)
  • Jim Krusoe, Girl Factory (Tin House Books)
  • Arthur Phillips, The Song Is You (Random House).

About the Jurors

Jury 2019

Chris Abani
Chris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and English mother, he grew up in Afikpo, Nigeria, received a BA in English from Imo State University, Nigeria, an MA in English, Gender and Culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. He has resided in the United States since 2001.

He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award.

His fiction includes The Secret History of Las Vegas (Penguin 2014), Song For Night *(Akashic, 2007), *The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006), GraceLand (FSG, 2004), and Masters of the Board(Delta, 1985).

His poetry collections are Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), Feed Me The Sun - Collected Long Poems *(Peepal Tree Press, 2010) *Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006), Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004), Daphne’s Lot (Red Hen, 2003) and *Kalakuta Republic *(Saqi, 2001).

His work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Romanian, Hebrew, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bosnian and Serbian.

Through his TED Talks, public speaking and essays Abani is known as an international voice on humanitarianism, art, ethics, and our shared political responsibility. His critical and personal essays have been featured in books on art and photography, as well as Witness, Parkett, The New York Times, O Magazine, and Bomb.

His many research interests include African Poetics, World Literature, 20th Century Anglophone Literature, African Presences in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, The Living Architecture of Cities, West African Music, Postcolonial and Transnational Theory, Robotics and Consciousness, Yoruba and Igbo Philosophy and Religion.

He is Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.

Ron Currie
Ron Currie is the author of the novels Everything Matters! and Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles and the short story collection God is Dead, which was the winner of the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award. In 2009, he received the Addison M. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His books have been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in Portland, Maine.

Kate Christensen
Kate Christensen has published seven novels, including The Great Man, which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, and The Last Cruise, published in paperback from Vintage Anchor in June 2019. She also published two food-centric memoirs, Blue Plate Special and How to Cook a Moose, which won the 2016 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. She has taught fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as well as short workshops in both memoir and fiction at various residencies and MFA programs and will teach a nonfiction workshop at Bates College next spring.

Kate has published my shorter pieces in places like Tin House, the Baffler, Down East, Portland Magazine, Vogue, Elle, Bookforum, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Food and Wine, as well as a lot of anthologies, most recently Why I Like This Story, edited by Jackson Bryer, and The Bitch is Back, edited by Cathi Hanauer. She lives in Portland, Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs, and is currently working on a new novel, working title The Infernal World.

Jury 2017

Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of two collections of poetry, Stellar Places (Moyer Bell, 2007) and Harbors and Spirits (Moyer Bell, 1999), and three works of fiction, the widely celebrated novel, Rails Under My Back (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000), which won The Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for Fiction, Song of the Shank (Graywolf Press, 2014), and the story collection Holding Pattern (Graywolf Press, 2008), which won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His other awards include a Whiting Writer's Award, a support grant from Creative Capital, The Chicago Public Library's Twenty-first Century Award, a Recognition for Pioneering Achievements in Fiction from the African American Literature and Culture Association, the 2003 Charles Angoff award for fiction from The Literary Review, Juand special citations from the Society for Midlands Authors and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. He has been a fellow at The Dorothy L. and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, a John Farrar Fellow in Fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and a Walter E. Dakins Fellow in Fiction at the Sewanee Writers' Conference. More at

Ellen Litman grew up in Moscow, Russia, where she lived until 1992. After her family immigrated to the United States, she studied Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh and after graduation spent the next six years working as a software developer in Baltimore and Boston. She took her first writing class in the fall of in 1998. Three years later, she left Information Technology and went off to Syracuse to study writing. Since then, she’s been writing and teaching.

Ellen’s fiction won first prize in the Atlantic Monthly 2003 Fiction Contest, and she’s been awarded 2006 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, as well as fiction fellowships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. More at

René Steinke is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. Her most recent novel, Friendswood (Riverhead), was named one of National Public Radio’s "Great Reads" of 2014. Friendswood was shortlisted for the St. Francis Literary Prize, and it was an Amazon Book of the Month. Her previous novel, Holy Skirts, an imaginative retelling of the life of the artist and provocateur, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, was a Finalist for the National Book Award. Her first novel is The Fires. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, O Magazine, Redbook, Houstonia, Salon, Bookforum, and in anthologies. She is the former Editor of The Literary Review, where she remains Editor-at-Large. She has taught at the New School and at Columbia University, and she is currently the Director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She lives in Brooklyn. More at

Jury 2015

Sigrid Nunez has published six novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, and, most recently, Salvation City. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Among the journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, Threepenny Review, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Believer, and Tin House. Her honors and awards include four Pushcart Prizes, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature.

Erin McGraw is the author of six books of fiction, most recently the novels The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), and Better Food for a Better World (Slant Books, 2013). Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Story, The Atlantic Monthly, Good Housekeeping, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Allure, and other magazines and journals. She teaches at the Ohio State University, and is married to the poet Andrew Hudgins.

Daniel Torday's debut novel, The Last Flight of Poxl West, will be published by St. Martin's Press in 2015. His novella, The Sensualist, won the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction. Torday's short stories and essays have appeared in Esquire Magazine, Glimmer Train, Harvard Review, The New York Times and The Kenyon Review. He is currently the Director of Creative Writing at Bryn Mawr College.

Jury 2013

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.

Jury 2011

Francine Prose is the author of many bestselling books of fiction, including A Changed Man and Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and the nonfiction New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. Her novel, Household Saints, was adapted for a movie by Nancy Savoca. Another novel, The Glorious Ones, has been adapted into a musical of the same name by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, which ran at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City in the fall of 2007. Her latest novel is My New American Life. She is the president of PEN American Center and lives in New York City.

Rick Moody is the author of Garden State (Pushcart Press Editors’ Book Award), The Ice Storm (made into a major motion picture) and his most recent novel, The Four Fingers of Death. His other work includes: Purple America, The Diviners; two collections of stories, The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven and Demonology; and a memoir, The Black Veil, winner of the PEN/ Martha Albrand Award. He has also received the Addison Metcalf Award, the Paris Review’s Aga Khan Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Darcey Steinke has written the memoir Easter Everywhere and several novels including, Milk: A Novel, Suicide Blonde and Jesus Saves, and twice been named to the New York Times Most Notable Books of the Year list. Moody and Steinke recently co-edited the collection, Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited. Steinke also writes for the New York Times Book Review.

Jury 2009

The jury for the award is a literary all-star team featuring:

  • Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay)
  • National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction winner Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn)
  • Aauthor and co-editor of The Believer magazine Heidi Julavits (The Uses of Enchantment: A Novel)
  • Author and professor at the MFA writing program at Columbia University Ben Marcus (Notable American Women)
  • and, New York Times bestselling author Ayelet Waldman (Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace).

Primary Contact
Dr. Ian S. Maloney, Director of the SFC Literary Prize [email protected]

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