Baton Rouge Area Foundation opens entries for 14th Annual Gaines Award


Baton Rouge, La. – Entries for the 14th annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence will be accepted through August 31, 2020. Information on criteria and entrance forms for the award, which includes a $15,000 cash prize, is available at

Presented by 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 upcoming Gaines Award will honor outstanding fiction— novels or short-story collections— published in 2020. Galleys for 2020 publications are also accepted.

A native of Pointe Coupee Parish, Ernest J. 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 was Writer-in-Residence Emeritus at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette before his death in 2019.

The Gaines Award winner is chosen annually by a panel of professional writers and academics.

The award has found promising writers early in their careers. For instance, two previous Gaines Award winners have later won the $50,000 Whiting Award. Another was chosen a MacArthur Fellow, a $625,000 award given over five years.

Previous winners are Bryan Washington, Jamel Brinkley, Ladee Hubbard, Crystal Wilkinson, T. Geronimo Johnson, Mitchell Jackson, Attica Locke, Stephanie Powell Watts, Dinaw Mengestu, Victor Lavalle, Jeffery R. Allen, Ravi Howard and Olympia Vernon.

The Ernest Gaines Award event will be held Thursday January 28, 2021 at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge.