Congratulations to the winners of the Willie Morris Awards!

2018 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction: The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson

2019 Willie Morris Award for Southern Poetry: Melissa Cannon, “Mercury Poises on the Pinnacle of Nashville’s Bygone Union Station”

Press Release: Winners of the Willie Morris Awards

The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

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 should be set in one of the following Southern states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia

It must be published in the year designated. For example, the book that received the award in October, 2017—Kim Wright’s Last Ride to Graceland—was published in 2016. Books published in 2019 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 2019 books is Friday, February, 28, 2020.

Previous Awards are listed below:

2018: The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson

Press Release: Winners of the Willie Morris Awards

Press Release: 2018 Shortlist Announcement

2017: One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain

Special Recognition: The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

Press Release: Winner of the 2017 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

Press Release: 2017 Shortlist Announcement

2016: Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright

2015:The Headmaster’s Darlings: A Mountain Brook Novel by Katherine Clark

Special Recognition: Sarah Addison Allen

2014: Long Man by Amy Greene

2013: Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

2012: A Short Time to Stay Here by Terry Roberts

2011: If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta

2010: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

2009: Secret Keepers by Mindy Friddle

2008: The City of Refuge by Tom Piazza

2007: The King of Colored Town by Darryl Wimberley

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 2019 to:

Stephen Monroe
Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction
Department of Writing & Rhetoric
615 Grove Loop
3rd Floor Lamar Hall, Suite B
University, MS 38677-1848

For additional information, inquire via email:

Reba White Williams and Dave Williams

About the Sponsors: Reba and Dave Williams









Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s