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Baton Rouge Area Foundation
Published: 10 April 2017

Entries for the 11th annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence will be accepted through Aug. 15. Information on criteria and entrance forms for the award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, is available at www.ernestjgainesaward.org.

Sponsored by foundation donors of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the Gaines Award was created to honor outstanding literary work from rising African-American authors while recognizing Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world. The Gaines Award honors outstanding fiction – novels or short-story collections – published in 2017. Galleys for 2017 publications are also accepted.

A native of Pointe Coupee Parish, Gaines is writer-in-residence emeritus at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. His critically acclaimed novel “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” was adapted into a 1974 made-for-TV movie that received nine Emmy awards. Published in 1993, his book “A Lesson Before Dying” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

The Gaines Award winner is chosen annually by a panel of professional writers and academics. The 2016 winner was Crystal Wilkinson’s novel, “Birds of Opulence.”

Previous Gaines Award winners include T. Geronimo Johnson for “Welcome to Braggsville,” Attica Locke for “The Cutting Season,” Stephanie Powell Watts for “We Are Taking Only What We Need,” and Dinaw Mengestu for “How to Read the Air.”

The Ernest Gaines Award ceremonies will be held on Jan. 18, 2018, at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge.

Criteria for the 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence:

• A work of fiction (novel or collection of short stories) that will be published in 2017. Galleys for a 2017 publication are also accepted.
The nominee must be a rising author, not yet widely recognized for their work.
• Author must be an African-American U.S. citizen.
• Self-published books will not be accepted. Self-published is publishing one's work independently and at one's own expense.
• Emailed entries will not accepted. 

The winning author must be willing to attend the award ceremony on January 18, 2018, and participate in educational outreach activities during that week.

To enter a published book or galley for review, send the completed REGISTRATION FORM and 8 copies to:

Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
c/o Baton Rouge Area Foundation
100 North St., Suite 900
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802

Non-winning entries will be donated to an area nonprofit. Ineligible entries will not be returned.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is among more than 700 community foundations in the country. The Foundation works in two ways to improve the quality of life in Baton Rouge and across south Louisiana. The Foundation and its fund donors grant about $30 million each year to nonprofits. As well, the Foundation takes on projects to improve the capacity of nonprofits, solve fundamental problems and build gathering places for all people. For more information, please visit BRAF.org.

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