Winners of the 2017 AWP Award Series
The AWP Award Series for Creative Nonfiction
Winner: Wang Ping
Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi, The University of Georgia Press
Gretel Ehrlich , Judge: "[Wang Ping's book] is free-wheeling, unusual, and always charged as it swings back and forth in time and cultures. These are mountain and river tales wound together like eels navigating the muddy waters of political, cultural, and personal displacement and wars waged against the human spirit. Episodes wriggle between cities on either side of the Pacific, China to the US and back again, from Tiger Leaping Gorge to New York, to Tibet, to the Yangtze and the Mississippi. Between the trapped and the free as the writer swims between homes and two rivers simultaneously."
Wang Ping was born in China and came to the US in 1986. Her publications of poetry and prose include American Visa, Foreign Devil, Of Flesh and Spirit, New Generation: Poetry from China Today, Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China, The Magic Whip, The Dragon Emperor,The Last Communist Virgin, and Flashcards: Poems by Yu Jian. She won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities and is the recipient of an NEA fellowship, the Bush Artist Fellowship for poetry, the McKnight Fellowship for non-fiction, and many others. She received her Distinct Immigrant Award in 2014, and Venezuela International Poet of Honor in 2015. She’s also a photographer and installation artist. Her multi-media exhibitions include “Behind the Gate: After the Flood of the Three Gorges,” and “Kinship of Rivers” at schools, colleges, galleries, museums, lock and dams, and confluences along the Mississippi River. She is professor of English at Macalester College, founder and director of Kinship of Rivers project.
The AWP Award Series for the Novel
Winner: Joshua Bernstein
Rachel's Tomb, New Issues Press
Zachary Lazar, Judge: "Rachel’s Tomb is a deftly ambitious novel about young soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces and the loved ones they’ve left behind. It brings to life with great artistry a diverse cast of secular and religious Jews, Arabs, Russians, and Ethiopian immigrants, soldiers, and civilians—a complex image of Israel. The book’s absurdist humor gracefully counterpoints the waste, loss, and early sorrow faced by its indelibly drawn characters."
Joshua Bernstein’s forthcoming story collection, STICK-LIGHT, was a finalist for the Robert C. Jones and Beverly Prizes. His work has appeared in Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, Tampa Review, Tin House (web), and other journals, and won the Hackney Novel Prize, the Knut House Novel Contest, and the John Gunyon Award. A Chicago native, he is an assistant professor of English at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the fiction editor of Tikkun.
Finalist: Timothy DeLizza, A Gift of Two
The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry
Winner: Brynne Rebele-Henry
Autobiography of a Wound, University of Pittsburgh Press
Kim Addonizio, Judge: “Autobiography of a Wound is a perilous journey of stone and bone and blood, goddess statue and abject, trembling girl. It’s the female body, the queer body, and its writer is unrelenting in her obsessive depictions of violation and damage. It is also precise, elegant, and incisive (in all senses of that word). I could not stop reading it, and afterwards, I could not stop thinking about it. To discover after choosing this manuscript for the Donald Hall Prize that its author was eighteen both floored and delighted me. Make way for Brynne Rebele-Henry. As Emerson said to a much older Whitman, ‘I greet you at the beginning of a great career.’”
Brynne Rebele-Henry’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, Fiction International, Rookie, and So to Speak, among other places. Her writing has won numerous awards, including the 2015 Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, the 2016 Adroit Prize for Prose, and a 2017 Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner. Her first book Fleshgraphs appeared from Nightboat Books in September 2016. She was born in 1999.
Finalist: Kwoya Fagin Maples, Mend
The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction
Winner: Jon Chopan
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press I, University of Massachusetts Press
Sue Miller, Judge: "These twelve stories, each narrated by a different veteran of the Iraq war, divide evenly between the often near-hallucinatory events of that war and the account of life back home in its aftermath. Sometime sad, sometime horrifying, often hilarious—occasionally all three simultaneously—each story bears down on moments of such searing honesty that it lingers in the reader’s memory as urgently as it lives on the page. This is an unsparing, vital, and completely engaging work of art."
Jon Chopan is an assistant professor of creative writing at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. His first collection, Pulled From the River, was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2012. His work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Hotel Amerika, Post Road, Epiphany, The Southampton Review, and elsewhere.
Finalist: Adam Stumacher, Eleven Kinds of Exile
Other genre winners to be announced soon.