The 2019 Literary Awards Program winners

What an extraordinary contest! This was one of SFWP’s most exciting years. We saw so many amazing entries, and are still reviewing dozens of them for the publishing wing. Contracts have already been offered to several contestants, including Elizabeth Gonzalez James, author of Mona at Sea, which careened onto the Short List a couple months ago and won our hearts the moment it showed up in Submittable. It’s a young woman’s tragicomic journey of self-discovery during the Great Recession of the early 2000’s. Funny, strong, and beautifully crafted.

We’ll also be publishing winner Lilly Dancyger’s incredible memoir, Negative Space, a reported and illustrated memoir following the imagery of her father’s artwork to uncover the truth about his life, heroin addiction, and death, as well as her own story of grief and discovery.

And there will be more terrific authors to come. So stay tuned.

Right now, let’s get to the 2019 winners! They are:

Deborah Jackson Taffa for Kiva Song.

Judge Carmen Maria Machado says of our grand prize-winner’s book:

I was completely taken with Kiva Song: its gorgeous sentences, its searing observations about identity and loss and inheritances, and its exploration of generational and terrestrial traumas. This is a strong and special book. Lovely and robust.

Lilly Dancyger for Negative Space. For Dancyger’s memoir, which will be published in spring of 2021, Machado says:

Negative Space is a lovely and heartbreaking book; navigating pain, inheritance, and loss. Dancyger’s father emerges from these pages as vividly as if I’d known him…

Joseph Holt for the short story collection Your Nightmare. Machado says:

I loved this collection—it’s raw, dark, and surprisingly funny, reminiscent of Nathan Ballingrud or Alissa Nutting. There’s so much precision and verve in these stories; I was captivated the entire way through.

Congratulations winners!

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