The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction is named for the late author, Willie Morris, and the spirit of the winning novel should reflect his words, “hope for belonging, for belief in a people’s better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive.” The selected book may contain violence and despair, and feature terrible events, but in the final analysis must be uplifting, and suggest hope and optimism.
The winning book is chosen for the quality of its prose, its originality, its sense of place and period, and the authenticity and appeal of its characters. The book must be set in the South, defined as one or more states of the original Confederacy (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia). It must be published in the year designated. For example, the book that will receive the award in October, 2017—Kim Wright’s Last Ride to Graceland—was published in 2016. Books published in 2018 are being considered for the prize now.
Short stories and linked short stories are not eligible. The winning book must be a classic novel, of at least 50,000 words. Non-fictional references and passages are acceptable only if in moderation.
The recipient of the Willie Morris Award receives $10,000.00, and an expense paid trip to New York City. The author must come to NY to receive the award, attend a luncheon with the contest judges and a reception in his/her honor. At the reception copies of the book are given to those attending, and the author is available to sign them. On that same evening, the author makes a few remarks about the book. Last year, more than 100 invited guests attended the reception; and nearly 100 books were given away. The reception is held in a large and attractive room—in past years, the ballroom of the Cosmopolitan Club, an equivalent space at the Knickerbocker Club. Since 2011, the reception has been held at New York Yacht Club, considered one of the most beautiful venues in the city.
The winning book and author are announced in literary journals, such as Publisher’s Weekly, Oxford American and Poets & Writers and assorted regional magazines. This same announcement solicits books from publishers and booksellers for current year candidates. The deadline for 2018 books is Friday, March, 29, 2019.
Shortlist: 2017 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction
This year’s finalists are:
Joshilyn Jackson, The Almost Sisters (William Morrow)
Bren McClain, One Good Mama Bone (The University of South Carolina Press)
J.C. Sasser, Gradle Bird (Koehler Books)
Stephanie Powell Watts, No One is Coming to Save Us (Ecco)
Previous Awards are listed below:
Special Recognition: Sarah Addison Allen
Those who wish to be considered for the prize should read previous winners.
For next year’s award, publishers and authors are invited to send one copy of a book published in 2018 to:Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction 654 Madison Avenue, Suite 703 New York, NY 10065
For additional information, inquire via email:
Reba White Williams and Dave Williams