Winners of the 2023 AWP Award Series

2023 Sue William Silverman Prize for Creative Nonfiction

Jay Baron Nicorvo Winner: Jay Baron Nicorvo
Judge: Geoff Dyer
Best Copy Available: A Memoir, University of Georgia Press

“The (true) story unfolding in Best Copy Available is almost unrelentingly bleak but that relentlessness also makes it difficult to put down. The voice is jagged, dangerous, compelling and, above all, appropriate.” —Geoff Dyer

2023 James Alan McPherson Prize for the Novel

Benjamin Grossberg Winner: Benjamin Grossberg
Judge: Percival Everett
The Spring Before Obergefell, University of Nebraska Press

“The world of this novel is patiently rendered with language that is direct, unadorned, and yet full. The characters here are presented with the kind of affection that is rare in much current literature. This is a love story and a growth story and a story about how the world changes and affects our self-definition, confidence, and place within it. The relationships are not familiar but not cliche, surprising but not sensational. I love the honesty and openness of this novel.” —Percival Everett

Finalist: Alex Russell, Rise and Run

“This novel is about family, work, and place. The relationship of the brothers is complex, complicated, and deep. The story is beautifully understated. People go to work in this novel. The work is part of the story and the world and not mere dressing. This is a strong novel.” —Percival Everett

2023 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry

Bret Shepard Winner: Bret Shepard
Judge: Heid E. Erdrich
Absent Here, University of Pittsburgh Press

“Visual, sensual, and clear, this collection maps a distinctly Alaskan space. The relationships, realities, land, sky, creatures, waters—ice—of the Arctic breathe in these poems like characters. There's a tricky math at work: each poem adds or subtracts from what a lone human can know. This is life as some gorgeous zero-sum game. These poems encourage us, even if defined by howling absence, to mark the present and live, simply live, in it.” —Heid E. Erdrich

2023 Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction

Molly Olguín Winner: Molly Olguín
Judge: Carmen Maria Machado
The Sea Gives Up the Dead, Red Hen Press

“I could not be more excited by this haunting, lush, genre-leaping collection—reading it, I am reminded of how I felt when I first encountered Karen Russell's St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Gorgeously written, imaginative, startling—Sea Gives Up the Dead is a Wunderkammer of beauty and sorrow.” —Carmen Maria Machado

Finalist: Edward Hamlin, A Small But Perfect Happiness

“I adore these elegant, beautiful stories—there is such exquisite control on these pages, punctuated with lightning bolts of surprise. A deeply empathetic collection, concerned with grief and loss and every other dark corner of the human experience.” —Carmen Maria Machado