Ernest Gaines Book Award Raises Cash Prize To $15,000


— The underwriter of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence has raised the cash prize to $15,000 from $10,000 and the deadline for submitting books remains August 15, 2019. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation increased its support for its award that recognizes emerging African-American fiction writers, helping to sustain and encourage these writers.

“We want the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence to be known as the pre-eminent award in the field of African American literary fiction. We hope that the added funding will help each year’s winner to gain further freedom to pursue his or her art,” explained John Davies, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

The forthcoming Gaines Award, to be presented in January 2020, accepts submissions of outstanding fiction— novels or short-story collections— published in 2019. Galleys for publications are also accepted. Details about the award and submission criteria can be found at

The Gaines Award was created to honor outstanding literary work from African-American authors as well as recognize Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world.

The Gaines Award winner is chosen annually by a national panel of literary leaders. The award celebration will be held Thursday January 30, 2020 at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge.

The book prize has uncovered promising writers early in their careers, including two previous winners who have won the Whiting Award and another who was subsequently chosen as a MacArthur Fellow.

Ernest Gaines is a native of Pointe Coupee Parish near Baton Rouge. His critically acclaimed novel, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” was adapted into a 1974 made-for-TV movie that received nine Emmy awards.