THIS YEAR’S WINNER
2021 – Sion Dayson
Sion Dayson is an American writer and EFL teacher. Born in New York, raised in North Carolina, and a decade spent in Paris where she acquired French nationality, she now makes her home in Valencia, Spain. Her work has appeared in numerous venues including The Writer, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Hunger Mountain, Utne Reader, The Wall Street Journal, and several anthologies, including Strangers in Paris and Ms Aligned: Women Writing About Men. Sion has won grants and residencies from the Kerouac House and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, among others. She holds an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Judge: Monique Truong
2020 – Devi S. Laskar
The Atlas of Reds and Blues grapples with the complexities of second-generation American life. Inspired by the author’s own terrifying experience of a mistaken police raid on her home, Devi S. Laskar’s debut novel explores, in spare and powerful prose, the ways in which racism permeates and pollutes the American dream. As the protagonist, known only as Mother, lies bleeding from a police gunshot wound in her Atlanta driveway, she revisits, in a time-bending mind-flash, her life as the successful child of immigrants from India, wife of a successful white businessman, and mother of three daughters.
Laskar’s second novel, CIRCA, will be published in Spring 2022 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Laskar holds an MFA from Columbia University and an MA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She holds BAs in English and Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She is an alumna of both TheOpEdProject and VONA, among others. In 2017, Finishing Line Press published two poetry chapbooks. A native of Chapel Hill, N.C., she now lives in California with her family.
Judge: Charles Frazier
2019 – Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
A Kind of Freedom, Sexton’s debut novel, was a 2017 National Book Award Nominee, a New York Times Notable Book of 2017 and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Sexton’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Lenny Letter, The Massachusetts Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, on Oprah.com, and in other publications.
Judge: Tayari Jones
2018 – Stephen O’Connor
In addition to Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, Stephen O’Connor is the author of two collections of short fiction, Here Comes Another Lesson and Rescue, and two works of nonfiction, Will My Name Be Shouted Out? and Orphan Trains: The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed. His work has appeared in a long list of literary journals in addition to numerous magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker and the New York Times. His story, “Next to Nothing,” was selected by Jennifer Egan for Best American Short Stories 2014. Currently teaching in the Sarah Lawrence MFA writing program, O’Connor has been the recipient of a number of prestigious fellowships.
Judge: Elizabeth Cox
2017 – Matthew Griffin
Matthew Griffin is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has taught writing at the University of Iowa and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and he worked for several years as Assistant to the Director of Highlander Research and Education Center, a renowned hub of grassroots organizing for social justice throughout the South and Appalachia. His first novel Hide was the winner of the 2017 Crook’s Corner Book Prize, a Stonewall Honor Book, and longlisted for the PEN/Bingham Prize for debut fiction. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Granta, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. He was born and raised in North Carolina and now lives with his husband and too many pets in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he teaches at Tulane University.
Judge: Tom Franklin.
2016 – Tom Cooper
Tom Cooper was the 2016 winner for Marauders, which was recognized as a SIBA Book Award Nominee 2016, a Strand Magazine Critics Award Nominee 2015, and a VCU Cabell First Novelist Prize Nominee 2016. Tom Cooper’s short stories have appeared in Oxford American, Mid-American Review, and Gulf Coast, among many other places. His stories have been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize. He is at work on several new projects, including television scripts and novels.
Judge: Lee Smith.
2015 – Kim Church
Kim Church won the second Crook’s Corner Book Prize in 2015, for her novel, Byrd, which garnered a basketful of other awards, including the Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medal for Literary Fiction. Like Wiley Cash, the first CCBP winner, Kim Church was a 2015-16 recipient of a $10,000 N.C. Arts Council fellowship. While working part-time as an attorney, she is currently immersed in her second novel, which is about the 1929 Gastonia, NC textile strike. Judge: Randall Kenan.