Entries are being accepted through Aug. 15 for the ninth annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Information on criteria and entrance forms for the award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, is available at www.ernestjgainesaward.org.
Sponsored by Baton Rouge Area Foundation donors, the Gaines Award honors outstanding fiction (novels or short-story collections) from rising African-American authors. The award recognizes Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world. The New Orleans Times-Picayune called it the “nation’s biggest prize for African-American writers.”
A Louisiana native, Gaines’ critically acclaimed novel “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” was adapted into a 1974 made-for-TV movie that received nine Emmy awards. His 1993 book, “A Lesson Before Dying”, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. He formerly was a creative writing instructor at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Entries for the 2015 Ernest J. Gaines Award will be judged by a national literary panel. The winner will be announced in November, and the award ceremony will be held on Jan. 21, 2016 at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge.
The 2014 winner was Mitchell S. Jackson for “The Residue Years,” which was also named an Honor Book by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Previous award winners include “The Cutting Season” by Attica Locke, “We Are Taking Only What We Need” by Stephanie Powell Watts, who also won a prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award, and “How to Read the Air” by Dinaw Mengestu, who was selected as a MacArthur Fellow in 2012.