Deadline nears for 9th Annual Gaines Literary Award


The deadline for submissions to the 2015 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence is August 15, 2015.

Sponsored by Baton Rouge Area Foundation donors, the Gaines Award honors outstanding fiction— novels or short-story collections— from rising African-American authors published in 2015. Galleys for 2015 publications are also accepted.

The award recognizes Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world. Information on criteria and entrance forms for the award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, is available at

Submissions are to be judged by a national literary panel and the winner will be announced in November. The award ceremony will take place on January 21, 2016, at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge.

A Louisiana native, Gaines’ critically acclaimed novel “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” was adapted into a 1974 made-for-TV movie that received nine Emmy awards. His 1993 book “A Lesson Before Dying” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. He is Writer-in-Residence Emeritus at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 2014 Gaines Award winner was Mitchell S. Jackson for “The Residue Years,” which was also named an Honor Book by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Previous Gaines Award winners include “The Cutting Season” by Attica Locke, “We Are Taking Only What We Need” by Stephanie Powell Watts, who also won a prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award, and “How to Read the Air” by Dinaw Mengestu, who was selected as a 2012 McArthur Fellow subsequent to winning the Gaines award.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has worked for 51 years to improve the quality of life across south Louisiana. It connects fund donors with nonprofits and has granted more than $350 million to a variety of nonprofit recipients.

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