The University Press of Kentucky is pleased to announce that Crystal Wilkinson, author of the award-winning The Birds of Opulence, has been named a finalist for the 2019 John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, an annual award that recognizes one of America’s most talented but underappreciated writers.
The John Dos Passos Prize for Literature is given annually by Longwood University to an underappreciated writer whose work offers incisive, original commentary on American themes. The winner of the prize receives an honorarium and gives a reading on Longwood’s campus.
Previous winners of the prize have gone on to win the most prestigious international literary awards, including Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards. They include Colson Whitehead, Sherman Alexie, Jill McCorkle, Tom Wolfe, and Annie Proulx.
Crystal Wilkinson is the award-winning author of The Birds of Opulence (winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence), Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in the Oxford American and Southern Cultures.
The six finalists are a diverse group of celebrated authors whose published works traverse genre and defy expectations. Their exceptional works are taught in college classrooms across the country.
“This is such an accomplished, innovative group of authors, and we are thrilled to honor them as finalists for the oldest literary award given by a Virginia college or university,” said Brandon Haffner, assistant professor of English at Longwood. “We have the difficult task of selecting one of them as the Dos Passos Prize recipient this fall, and the winner will join an impressive list of some of America’s most celebrated authors. These finalists represent various styles, subjects, and places, but all six of them explore crucial truths about the American experience.”
The finalists with selected works are:
Rabih Alameddine, The Angel of History; An Unnecessary Woman
Sesshu Foster, World Ball Notebook; Atomik Aztek
Linda Hogan, Mean Spirit; People of the Whale
Victor LaValle, The Changeling; The Ballad of Black Tom
Kelly Link, Get in Trouble; Magic for Beginners
The prize winner will be announced in August 2019.