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August 15, 2015

Six Authors Make $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize Short List

Winner to be Announced September 19 at Brooklyn Book Festival Gala

literary prize

From 130 to six, the short list is out for the $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the United States. Authors on the 2015 shortlist are:

  • 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)

The Authors

The Literary Prize is awarded to a mid-career author for their third to fifth published book. This year's jury included authors Sigrid Nunez (A Feather on the Breath of God), Erin McGraw (The Baby Tree), and Daniel Torday (The Last Flight of Poxl West).

"Our jurors have selected an amazing collection of books from a diverse group of authors," said St. Francis College English Professor Ian Maloney, who oversees the Literary Prize. "From a satire about an African-American who wants to bring back segregation (The Sellout) to a collection of love stories (Paper Lantern) to a small Texas town dealing with an industrial hazard (Friendswood), these books each have an originality that can only come from a seasoned writer who is honing the craft over time."

The Books

The other three short list books are about two interconnected families set against a backdrop of New York City and mortality (& Sons), a look at the beginnings of mental health care through one man's journey (The Man Who Walked Away), and a story that spins from the attempted assassination of Bob Marley (A Brief History of Seven Killings).

"Mid-career authors face an uncertain future. Will they be able to continue writing, or do they need to venture down a different career path," said St. Francis College Provost Timothy Houlihan. "With the Literary Prize, we take the defiant stand that good authors need to keep writing. The College puts a great effort behind recognizing these writers and celebrating a rich community of literature in Brooklyn and beyond."

David Vann, the winner of the 2013 Literary Prize, credits his continuing writing career in part to the Literary Prize. "I really have been re-launched because of this prize and because of my new publisher. I'm really grateful for what that did. It really made a big difference."

In addition to the Literary Prize, St. Francis also hosts a number of events during the annual Brooklyn Book Festival and welcomes authors to campus throughout the year, most recently, Junot Díaz, Stephen King, Peter Straub and Alicia Ostriker.

Margaret Atwood comes to St. Francis College October 9.

The winner of the $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize will be announced at the Brooklyn Book Festival gala on September 19th at 6:00 pm.

$50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize Past Winners:
2009 Aleksandar Hemon, Love and Obstacles
2011 Jonathan Dee, The Privileges
2013 David Vann, Dirt

About the Short List Authors
Paul Beatty, The Sellout (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
, is the author of the novels, Tuff, Slumberland and The White Boy Shuffle, and the poetry collections Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He was the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.

Maud Casey, The Man Who Walked Away (Bloomsbury USA), is the author of three novels, The Shape of Things to Come, Genealogy, The Man Who Walked Away; and a collection of stories, Drastic. She is the recipient of the Calvino Prize, a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and numerous international residency fellowships including, most recently, the Dora Maar House and the BAU Institute at Camargo Summer Arts Residency Fellowship. Her stories have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, The American Scholar, The Normal School, Forklift, Ohio, Bellevue Literary Journal, and American Fiction. Her book reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Literary Imagination, Salon, A Public Space, and Post Road. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Stuart Dybek, Paper Lantern (Farrar, Straus, Giroux), is the author of five books of fiction--Ecstatic Cahoots, Paper Lantern, I Sailed with Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods--as well as two collections of poetry, Brass Knuckles and Streets in Their Own Ink. Dybek is the recipient of many prizes and awards, including the PEN/Malamud Award, an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Whiting Writers' Award, four O. Henry Awards, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is distinguished writer-in-residence at Northwestern University.

David Gilbert, & Sons (Random House), is the author of the story collection Remote Feed and the novel The Normals. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, GQ, and Bomb. He lives in New York with his wife and three children.

Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead), was born in Jamaica in 1970. His most recent novel is A Brief History of Seven Killings, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award. It was also a New York Times Notable Book. He is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel, John Crow's Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and was a New York Times Editors' Choice. James lives in Minneapolis.

René Steinke's most recent novel, Friendswood (Riverhead), was named one of NPR's Best Books of 2014. She is the author of Holy Skirts (a National Book Award Finalist) and The Fires. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, O Magazine, Bookforum, and Triquarterly. She is the Director of the MFA Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Editor-at-Large at The Literary Review. She lives in Brooklyn.

About the Jurors
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 recently published his debut novel, The Last Flight of Poxl West (St. Martin's Press). 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.

Paul Beatty The Sellout
Maud Casey The Man Who Walked Away
Stuart Dybek Paper Lantern
David Gilbert & Sons
Marlon James A Brief History of Seven Killings
Rene Steinke Friendswood

Photo Credits:
Paul Beatty: Hannah Assouline
Stuart Dybek: © Jon Randolph
Marlon James: Jeffrey Skemp
Maud Casey: Zach Veilleux

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.


St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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