The Balcones Prize reading will take place in the spring of 2024. Check back in for more details.
Winner of the 2023 Balcones Prize for Fiction
Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Ph.D., is the author of the novel Big Girl, winner of the 2023 Next Generation Indie Book Award for First Novel and a New York Times Editors’ Choice, Blue Talk and Love, winner of the Judith Markowitz Award from Lambda Literary and The Poetics of Difference: Queer Feminist Forms in the African Diaspora, winner of the William Sanders Scarborough Prize from the MLA. She has earned honors from Bread Loaf, the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, the Mellon Foundation, the Center for Fiction, the NEA and others. Originally from Harlem, NY, she is an Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University and lives in Washington DC.
The judge, writer Charlotte Gullick, had these words: “In Big Girl, I deeply admire how vivid and strong Malaya is as a character, and Sullivan brilliantly parallels what is happening in Malaya’s life with the gentrification of Harlem. The novel explores intergenerational patterns of judgment and strength, potently rendering how Malaya chooses what she wants to carry forward, on her own terms.”
Finalists for fiction, in alphabetical order:
City of Incurable Women by Maud Casey
What We Fed to the Manticore by Talia Lakshmi Kolluri
The Consequences by Manuel Muñoz
Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty
Winner of the 2023 Balcones Prize for Poetry
Ask the Brindled by Noʻu Revilla
Noʻu Revilla is the author of Ask the Brindled. She is an ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) queer poet and educator. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Poetry, Literary Hub, ANMLY, Beloit, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress. Her latest chapbook, Permission to Make Digging Sounds, was published in Effigies III in 2019, and she has performed throughout Hawaiʻi as well as Canada, Papua New Guinea, and the United Nations. She is an assistant professor at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa, where she teaches creative writing with an emphasis on ʻŌiwi literature, spoken word, and decolonial poetics. Born and raised in Waiʻehu on the island of Maui, she currently lives and loves in the valley of Pālolo on the island of Oʻahu.
Of the winner, our judge—the poet Sequoia Maner—said: “While reading No’u Revilla’s debut book of poetry, I had the feeling of listening to sacred and secret conversations between the poet and her ancestors. In my listening, I came away with deepened knowledge of what it means to protest and protect; what it means to strive toward sacred sovereignty—of land, of language, of erotics, of self, of history. Rooted in decolonial politics and shapeshifting practices, Ask the Brindled is Indigenous queer feminist incantation at its finest.”
Finalists for poetry, in alphabetical order:
Magnolia, 木蘭 by Nina Mingya Powles
Concentrate by Courtney Faye Taylor
The Rupture Tense by Jenny Xie
Unceded Land by Issam Zineh
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The 2022 winners of the Balcones Prizes were Jocelyn Nicole Johnson for My Monticello (Fiction) and Michael Kleber-Diggs for Worldly Things (Poetry).
The 2021 winners of the Balcones Prizes were Fowzia Karimi for Above Us the Milky Way (Fiction) and Heid E. Erdrich for Little Big Bully (Poetry).
The 2020 winners of the Balcones Prizes were Max Porter for Lanny (Fiction) and Maya Phillips for Erou (Poetry).
The 2019 winners of the Balcones Prizes were Shena McAuliffe for The Good Echo (Fiction) and Margaree Little for Rest (Poetry).
Previous winners of the Balcones Prizes include Natalie Diaz, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Reginald Gibbons, Mark Jarmon, Michael McGriffe, Douglas Trevor, Tara Laskowski, and many others.