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  • ‘A Lucky Man’ wins Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

    Jamel Brinkley’s  collection of nine short stories has won the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Set in Brooklyn and the South Bronx where the writer spent his youth before graduating from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the stories in A Lucky Man explore the charged, complex ties between boys and men who make mistakes that threaten their relationships with friends, lovers, and family members.

    The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence honors Louisiana storyteller, Ernest J. Gaines, and serves to inspire and recognize rising African-American fiction writers of excellence at a national level. The annual award of a $10,000 cash prize is to support the writer and help enable them to focus on the art of writing.

    Ernest Gaines

    A Lucky Man is “intent on recognizing what masculinity looks like, questioning our expectations of it, and criticizing its toxicity — and somehow managing to do all of that with love,” wrote Ilana Masad of National Public Radio.

    Brinkley examines the way men excuse their own attempts at ownership of the world around them. His book “deals in family relationships, love, aging, loss, and disappointment — the universal themes that keep us coming back to literature — while also conveying versions of Black male experience,” Masad wrote.

    In one story, an imaginative young boy from the Bronx goes swimming with his day camp group at a suburban backyard pool and faces the effects of power and privilege. In another, college boys on the prowl follow two girls home from a party and have to own up to the uncomfortable truth of their desires.

    “Brinkley offers visions of manhood and masculinity that demonstrate candor without false intensity, desire without ownership. His male characters have fictional experiences that, in the hands of the right reader, can become equipment for living,” the Los Angeles Review of Books wrote.

    The book award, initiated by donors of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, is now in its 12th year and has become nationally recognized in its role of enhancing visibility of emerging African-American fiction writers while also expanding the audience for this literature.

    Brinkley will be honored January 24, 2019, in Baton Rouge.

    ONLINE: http://www.ernestjgainesaward.org

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  • ‘The Talented Ribkins’ wins 11th Annual Ernest Gaines Award

    New Orleans writer Ladee Hubbard’s novel, The Talented Ribkins, has been named winner of the 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

    Now in its 11th year, the Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed $10,000 prize given annually by Baton Rouge Area Foundation donors to recognize outstanding work from rising African-American fiction writers, while honoring Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world.

    The award will be presented to Hubbard at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge. Doors open at 6 p.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at gainesaward@braf.org. 

    The Talented Ribkins is Hubbard’s first novel. It was inspired by the essay “The Talented Tenth,” written in 1903 by civil rights sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, calling for exceptional men to step up to help save their race. The novel follows Johnny Ribkins and his family who are on a race to dig up stolen money stashed all over Florida before Johnny’s former mobster boss finds him. Luckily, Johnny’s family hold unusual superpowers that help him in his search although the superpowers get in the way from time to time. The novel incorporates race, class and politics, and the unique gifts that bind the Ribkins family together.The-Talented-Ribkins-grey-232x300

    Hubbard earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, a master’s of fine arts in dramatic writing from New York University and a master’s of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. While attending Princeton, she was mentored by Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. Hubbard is a professor of African studies at Tulane University.

    The national panel of judges for the 2017 Gaines Award are: Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner for his 2003 novel, The Known World; Anthony Grooms, a critically acclaimed author and creative writing professor at Kennesaw State University; renowned author Elizabeth Nunez, professor of English at Hunter College-City University of New York; Francine Prose, author of more than 20 books, including Blue Angel, a nominee for the 2000 National Book Award; and Patricia Towers, former features editor for O, The Oprah Magazine and a founding editor of Vanity Fair magazine.

    Due to the exceptional quality of entries, judges for the Gaines Award short-listed three books for commendation this year – New People, by Danzy Senna, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah, and What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons.

    Previous winners of the Ernest J. Gaines award include Crystal Wilkinson for Birds of Opulence, 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.

    Ernest Gaines, a native of  Pointe Coupee Parish and a literary legend, has received a National Medal of Arts (2013), a MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, and the National Humanities Medal. He is a member of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His critically acclaimed novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was adapted into a made-for-TV movie that won nine Emmy awards. His 1993 novel A Lesson Before Dying won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

     

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