Iowa’s New Annual Prize for Literary Nonfiction

August 19, 2015 § 4 Comments


header-UI-PressThe University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program and the University of Iowa Press are pleased to announce a new annual prize for literary nonfiction. Submissions will be accepted from October 15, 2015 through December 10, 2015. The announcement of the winner will be made in spring of 2016. Submissions must be book length (at least 40,000 words but no longer than 90,000) and can be either a collection or a long-form manuscript. Both published and previously unpublished authors will be considered, with the winner being awarded a publishing contract with the University of Iowa Press.

The contest will be screened and initially judged by the Iowa Nonfiction Program and its director, John D’Agata, as part of a publishing class taught in conjunction with the University of Iowa Press. Distinguished visiting professor Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone, will be the final judge.

UI Press director, Jim McCoy, noted, “This is an exciting opportunity. We’ve long been committed to the publication of quality literary nonfiction through our Sightline Books series. Literary nonfiction, no matter how you try to define it, is one of the most exciting genres currently being explored by writers. It pushes new boundaries. It reinterprets how we look at a number of issues in the humanities and sciences. We can’t wait to see the variety and quality of the submissions. The fact that we also get to exchange information and engage with students during the publishing process is a bonus.”

“The exciting thing about this class and contest is that it’s going to encourage students to clarify for themselves and their peers how they interpret nonfiction, and what their criteria are for great nonfiction books,” D’Agata offered. “It’ll require them to explain clearly why they feel this manuscript is better than that manuscript. And so at a pedagogical level this will be a priceless experience, because what we’ll ultimately learn is that we’re all very different—both as readers and people—and we therefore have different criteria for what makes something good.”

The Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa is one of the most prestigious MFA programs in existence. In addition to its degree program, it hosts a highly regarded visiting author series, the Overseas Writing Workshop, and the Bedell Nonfiction Now Conference.

The University of Iowa Press publishes more than 40 books a year, including award-winning literary nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. The press already hosts the annual Iowa Poetry Prize and the Iowa Short Fiction Awards. More information about the press and the submission guidelines can be found at uiowapress.org.

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