THIS YEAR’S WINNER
2023 – Caroline Frost
Caroline Frost is a native Texan, and Shadows of Pecan Hollow (William Morrow) is her first novel. She has a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She lives in the LA area with her husband and three young children.
Author website: carolinefrost.com
2022 – Eric Nguyen
Eric Nguyen’s winning novel, Things We Lost to the Water (Knopf), is a captivating book about an immigrant Vietnamese family who settles in New Orleans as they search for identity—as individuals and as a family—and struggle to remain connected to one another as their lives are inexorably reshaped. He earned an MFA in creative writing from McNeese State University in Louisiana. He has been awarded fellowships from Lambda Literary, Voices of Our Nation Arts, and the TinHouse Writers Workshop. He is the editor-in-chief of diaCRITICS.org. and lives in Washington, DC. Judge: Ron Rash
Author website: ericpnguyen.com
2021 – Sion Dayson
Sion Dayson, author of the winning novel, As a River (Jaded Ibis Press), 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 (Counterpoint) 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.
2019 – Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
A Kind of Freedom (Counterpoint), 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 (Viking), 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 won the prize in 2017 forHide (Bloomsbury). In addition to the Crook’s Corner Book Prize, his novel was a Stonewall Honor Book, and was longlisted for the PEN/Bingham Prize for debut fiction. He has taught writing at the University of Iowa and University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Granta, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. He was born and raised in North Carolina and now lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he teaches at Tulane University. Judge: Tom Franklin.
2016 – Tom Cooper
Tom Cooper was the 2016 winner for Marauders (Crown), 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 (Dzanc Books), 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.