ACC announces winner of the 2014 Balcones Fiction Prize: HOLD THE DARK by William Giraldi

The Creative Writing Department and the Division of Arts and Humanities at Austin Community College are pleased to announce the winner of the Balcones Fiction Prize. The prize of $1,500 recognizes an outstanding book of literary fiction published during 2014.

William Giraldi
William Giraldi

Hold the Dark by William Giraldi (Liveright/Norton) is set in a bleak Alaskan winter when wolves take three children from an isolated Alaskan village, including the six-year-old son of Medora and Vernon Slone. Medora contacts nature writer and wolf expert Russell Core to investigate the killings. He discovers horrifying darkness at the heart of Medora Slone and learns of an unholy truth harbored by this village. When Vernon Slone returns from a desert war to discover his son dead and his wife missing, he begins a methodical pursuit across this frozen landscape. Aided by his boyhood companion Cheeon, and pursued by the stalwart detective Donald Marium, Slone is without mercy, cutting a bloody swath through the wilderness of his homeland. As Russell Core attempts to rescue Medora from her husband’s vengeance, he comes face to face with an unspeakable secret at the furthermost reaches of American soil—a secret about the unkillable bonds of family, and the untamed animal in the soul of every human being.

Giraldi is the author of the critically hailed Busy Monsters and fiction editor for the journal AGNI at Boston University. He lives in Boston with his wife and sons.

Novelist A.G. Mojtabai, who judged the 2014 prize, said in Giraldi’s novel “setting becomes character, landscape—inscape. An unnamed yet excruciatingly familiar desert war zone and an Alaskan wilderness outpost, twin darknesses, are plumbed to reveal the darkness of human hearts.The tale is told in prose with the compression, the density, of poetry. Giraldi picks his words with profound care, as if for the first naming, as if lives are at stake in naming things rightly.”

Five finalists were also named:

  • Byrd by Kim Church (Dzanc Books)
  • A Falling Star by Chantel Acevedo (Carolina Wren Press)
  • Out of Peel Tree by Laura Long (West Virginia University Press)
  • Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb by Ian Woollen (Coffeetown Press)
  • What Ends by Andrew Ladd (New Issues)

Austin Community College awards the Balcones Fiction Prize annually for a book of literary fiction published during the year. Nominations for the 2015 prize will be accepted from September 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

For more information: Joe O’Connell, 1212 Rio Grande Street, Austin, Texas 78701,