Simpson Literary Project


Simpson Family Literary Prize


The Simpson Family Literary Prize recognizes annually a writer who has earned a distinguished reputation and the approbation and gratitude of readers. The Inaugural Prize Recipient for 2017–2018 will be an author of fiction at the relatively middle stage of a burgeoning career. The Simpson Family Literary Prize Recipient receives a $50,000 award to encourage and support forthcoming work. The winner will give a public reading, make a limited number of public appearances, and be in brief residence at the Lafayette Library and the University of California, Berkeley. There is no application process. An anonymous jury selects the recipient, to be announced in May 2017. We are pleased to announce this year's short list.

2017-2018 Short List


T. Geronimo Johnson was born in New Orleans. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, Johnson has taught writing at UC Berkeley, Stanford, the Writers’ Workshop, the Prague Summer Program, Oregon State University, San Quentin, and elsewhere. He has worked on, at, or in brokerages, kitchens, construction sites, phone rooms, education non-profits, writing centers, summer camps, ladies shoe stores, nightclubs, law firms, offset print shops, and a (pre-2016) political campaign that shall remain unnamed. He also wrote a couple of novels that have—between the two—been selected by the Wall Street Journal Book Club, named a 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award finalist, shortlisted for the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, longlisted for the National Book Award, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, a finalist for The Bridge Book Award, a finalist for the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award, included on Time Magazine’s list of the top ten books of 2015, awarded the Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and named the winner of the 2015 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Johnson was a 2016 National Book Award judge. He lives in Berkeley, CA.

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983 and grew up in South Africa. A novelist (Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth) and essayist (Sidewalks and Tell Me How It Ends), her work has been translated into many languages. In 2014, Faces in the Crowd was the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award. The Story of My Teeth was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the 2015 Los Angeles Times Prize for Best Fiction. RCW Literary Agency author page

Lori Ostlund is the author of After the Parade (Scribner, 2015), which was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and was a Ferro-Grumley Award finalist and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Her first book, a story collection entitled The Bigness of the World (UGA Press, 2009; reissued by Scribner, 2016), won the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the 2009 California Book Award for First Fiction. Stories from it appeared in the Best American Short Stories and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Lori has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and a fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is a teacher and lives in San Francisco with her wife and cats, though she spent her formative years in Minnesota, cat-less.

Dana Spiotta is the author of four novels: Innocents and Others (2016), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a New York Times Book Review Editors' Pick; Stone Arabia (2011), which was a finalist for the  National Book Critics Circle Award; Eat the Document (2006), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Lightning Field (2001). Spiotta was a Guggenheim Fellow, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, and was awarded the 2008-9 Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Syracuse and teaches in the Syracuse University MFA program.