Katherine Karlin wins the 2011 Balcones Fiction Prize

Katherine Karlin wins the 2011 Balcones Fiction Prize for her story collection Send Me Work (published by TriQuarterly).

Karlin’s collection features stories about American women and their work.  Unlike the heroines of domestic fiction, Katherine Karlin’s women face their biggest challenges outside of the house.

Renowned Texas author Jan Reid (Comanche Sundown) served as the book prize’s final judge. “Unlike so many American writers of fiction these days,” he writes, “Katherine Karlin matches lyrical style with a wealth of blue-collar experience and far-ranging imagination — from oboists’ reeds to old circus clowns to hard-earned scars on the arms of welders.  Send Me Work is a superb debut.”

Katherine Karlin has worked at an oil refinery and a print shop; she’s driven a forklift at a shipyard and sewn together dog leashes.  Upon winning the Balcones Fiction Prize, she wrote, “I had a creative writing professor who always asked me, ‘Why don’t your characters ever fall in love?’ I do something else.  I write about work.”

Katherine Karlin
Katherine Karlin

Karlin writes that workplace relationships “can be as complex, confusing and rewarding as the relationships forged in courtship and family.” Karlin is Assistant Professor of English at Kansas State University. In addition to publishing stories in various journals, her work has been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize and New Stories from the South.

The second annual Balcones Fiction Prize attracted over sixty nominations of novels and story collections. ACC creative writing professors chose six finalists for the prize and handed them to Jan Reid for his ultimate decision. The other five Balcones Fiction Prize finalists are:

  • Let the Birds Drink in Peace by Robert Garner McBrearty (Conundrum Press)
  • Mitzvah Man by John J. Clayton (Texas Tech University Press)
  • Quickening by Liza Wieland (Southern Methodist University Press)
  • The Fitting by Joseph Zaitchik (Florida Academic Press)
  • Green Gospel by L.C. Fiore (Livingston Press)

The deadline for the 2012 Balcones Fiction Prize is January 31, 2013. For more information, see:

Balcones Winners to visit ACC on March 21, 2012


Chase Twichell reads from Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems–Winner of the 2010 Balcones Poetry Prize. Linh Dinh reads from his novel Love Like Hate–Winner of the 2010 Balcones Fiction Prize. The readings begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Gallery Theater of Rio Grande Campus. For more information, please contact Charlotte Gullick, 223-3226, cgullick@austincc.edu.

Balcones Fiction Prize: Calling all Publishers

The Balcones Fiction Prize has thus far received very few books from the top 5 largest publishers – actually zero, I think. I do hope we receive some books from them (Random House, etc.). But if we don’t, it means this is a great opportunity for lesser-known writers to compete for a national book award. Please have your nomination postmarked by January 31.

— Irwin Tang, Professor, Creative Writing

Balcones Fiction Prize 2011

The Balcones Center for Creative Writing at Austin Community College announces that the $1,500 Balcones Fiction Prize for 2010 has been awarded to Linh Dinh for his novel, Love Like Hate (Seven Stories Press).

Linh Dinh
Linh Dinh

Final judge, filmmaker and ACC Creative Writing professor Luke Garza, chose Love Like Hate out of six finalists. The first annual Balcones Fiction Prize attracted fifty nominations of novels and story collections.

Garza praised the novel for its verisimilitude. “I felt as though I were watching real people in real time,” wrote Garza. “His characters are, at times, a bit outrageous, but always within the realm of believability.”

Dinh’s novel follows characters through modern Vietnam. “Though Vietnam has often been depicted, in films, books and on television, it is nearly always unrecognizable from the Vietnam that I know. Hence, Love Like Hate,” wrote Dinh upon winning the fiction prize.

Dinh was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S. in 1975. While the novel was inspired by Dinh’s two-and-a-half year stay in Vietnam starting in 1999, he says the setting is secondary: “I’m attempting to show how the individual is formed and deformed by the forces of history.”

Linh Dinh is the author of two story collections and five books of poetry. He is currently writing political essays about the decline of the United States. Dinh will visit Austin Community College to read from his book in spring 2012.

The other five Balcones Fiction Prize finalists are:

  • The Book of Harold: the Illegitimate Son of God by Owen Eggerton (Dalton Publishing)
  • Breathing, In Dust by Tim Z. Hernandez (Texas Tech University Press)
  • The Colony by Jillian Weise (Soft Skull Press)
  • Georgic: Stories by Mariko Nagai (BkMk Press)
  • How to Escape from a Leper Colony Tiphanie Yanique (Graywolf Press)