From 130 to six, the shortlist is out for the $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the United States. Authors on the 2015 shortlist are:
- Paul Beatty, “The Sellout “ (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
- Maud Casey, “The Man Who Walked Away “ (Bloomsbury USA)
- Stuart Dybek, “Paper Lantern” (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)
- David Gilbert, “& Sons “(Random House)
- Marlon James, “A Brief History of Seven Killings” (Riverhead)
- René Steinke, “Friendswood “ (Riverhead)
The Literary Prize is awarded to a mid-career author for their third to fifth published book. This year’s jury included authors Sigrid Nunez (“A Feather on the Breath of God”), Erin McGraw (“The Baby Tree”) and Daniel Torday (“The Last Flight of Poxl West”).
“Our jurors have selected an amazing collection of books from a diverse group of authors,” said St. Francis College English professor Ian Maloney, who oversees the Literary Prize. “From a satire about an African-American who wants to bring back segregation [“The Sellout”] to a collection of love stories [“Paper Lantern”] to a small Texas town dealing with an industrial hazard [“Friendswood”], these books each have an originality that can only come from a seasoned writer who is honing the craft over time.”
The other three short list books are about two interconnected families set against a backdrop of New York City and mortality (& Sons), a look at the beginnings of mental health care through one man’s journey (“The Man Who Walked Away”) and a story that spins from the attempted assassination of Bob Marley (“A Brief History of Seven Killings”).
“Mid-career authors face an uncertain future. Will they be able to continue writing, or do they need to venture down a different career path,” said St. Francis College Provost Timothy Houlihan. “With the Literary Prize, we take the defiant stand that good authors need to keep writing. The college puts a great effort behind recognizing these writers and celebrating a rich community of literature in Brooklyn and beyond.”
David Vann, the winner of the 2013 Literary Prize, credits his continuing writing career in part to the Literary Prize.
“I really have been re-launched because of this prize and because of my new publisher,” he said. “I’m really grateful for what that did. It really made a big difference.”
In addition to the Literary Prize, St. Francis also hosts a number of events during the annual Brooklyn Book Festival and welcomes authors to campus throughout the year, most recently Junot Díaz, Stephen King, Peter Straub and Alicia Ostriker.
Margaret Atwood will come to St. Francis College on Oct. 9.
The winner of the $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize will be announced at the Brooklyn Book Festival gala on Sept. 19 at 6 p.m.
Past winners of the prize include Aleksandar Hemon for “Love and Obstacles” (2009), Jonathan Dee for “The Privileges” (2011) and David Vann for “Dirt” (2013).