187 Writers Compete for St. Francis College's $50,000 Literary Prize

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Juror: Jeffery Renard Allen


Short List to be Announced August 15, Winner at Brooklyn Book Festival

A record number of mid-career writers are looking to claim the 2017 St. Francis College $50,000 Literary Prize, 50 more entries than for the 2015 edition of the contest. Now, Jury Prize members; Ellen Litman (The Last Chicken in America), Jeffery Renard Allen (Song of the Shank), and René Steinke (Friendswood), are reading the submissions and will pick the best of the bunch.

The Jury will release the Short List August 15. The winner will be announced as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival, held September 17.

Steinke was on the Short List for the 2015 Literary Prize, along with winner Maud Casey (The Man Who Walked Away), as well as Marlon James (A Brief History of Seven Killings), and Paul Beatty (The Sellout) who are the winners of the last two Man Booker Prizes. (Watch Marlon James at St. Francis / Watch a panel with the whole 2015 short list)

The St. Francis College Literary Prize aims to bring attention to mid-career writers, a time when many authors must decide to keep writing or leave the field. Writers who have published their third to fifth work of fiction within the designated time frame are eligible for the competition.

“Writers tend to get more attention for their first works or after a full career of publishing, but writers at mid-career are often overlooked,” said Ian Maloney, Director of the Literary Prize and an English Professor at St. Francis College. “This $50,000 prize, which is one of the richest prizes anywhere, says that we value authors at this crucial stage in their careers and want to give them more opportunities to focus on their craft."

The $50,000 Literary Prize compliments the programming at St. Francis College which brings a number of high-profile and rising star authors to campus every year. Continuing the momentum is the new Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing which begins July 5 with mentors, Marlon James, Annie Finch (Spells: New and Selected Poems), and Tony Tulathimutte (Private Citizens).  More Information at sfc.edu/mfa.

St. Francis College Literary Prize Past Winners:
2009 Aleksandar Hemon, Love and Obstacles
2011 Jonathan Dee, The Privileges
2013 David Vann, Dirt
2015 Maud Casey, The Man Who Walked Away

About the Jury: 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 http://ellenlitman.com

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, and 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 www.jefferyrenardallen.com

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 http://www.renesteinke.net

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