Simpson Literary Project


Simpson Family Literary Prize

2019 Shortlist Finalists


2019 Simpson Prize Shortlist

We are pleased to announce the 2019 Shortlist Finalists for the 3rd Annual 2019 Simpson Prize. The Shortlist Finalists were announced in early March 2019 and will receive $2,000 for participating in the Literary Project. The Prize Recipient will receive an award of $50,000 and give readings and make appearances in the Bay Area and be in ten-day residence in Lafayette and Berkeley, California, during the Spring Semester 2020.

Read the 2019 Shortlist press release.

Photograph by Ann Summa/ NYT / Redux

Photograph by Ann Summa/ NYT / Redux

Rachel Kushner’s most recent novel, The Mars Room, was a finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Prix Médicis Etranger. Kushner’s two previous novels, Telex from Cuba and The Flamethrowers, were both finalists for the National Book Award and New York Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into twenty-two languages. Kushner’s fiction has appeared in the New YorkerHarper’s, and the Paris Review. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2016 Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Los Angeles.


Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of the novels Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize longlist; and The Moor’s Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was on the Man Booker Prize longlist and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The NationHarper’s, the Guardian, and the New York Times. She writes the “Between the Lines” column for The Nation magazine and is a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. The recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. Her new novel, The Other Americans, will be published by Pantheon in March 2019. 

Photograph by Diego Berruecos

Photograph by Diego Berruecos

Valeria Luiselli, born in Mexico City, is an award-winning Mexican author now living in the United States. After earning a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Luiselli studied Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of the book of essays Sidewalks (Coffee House Press, 2014), and the novel Faces in the Crowd (Coffee House Press, 2014), which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her second novel, The Story of My Teeth (Coffee House Press, 2015)was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Best Translated Book Award, and won the Los Angeles Times Prize for Best Fiction. In 2014 she was the recipient of the National Book Foundation "5 under 35" award and in 2018 received a grant from the Arts for Justice fund. She teaches literature and creative writing, and lives in New York City. Her latest book of essays, Tell Me How It Ends (Coffee House Press, 2017) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism and a winner of the American Book Award. Her third novel, Lost Children Archive was published by Knopf in 2019. She was a finalist for the 2017 Simpson Prize.


Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels including A Feather on the Breath of GodFor RouennaThe Last of Her Kind, and, most recently, The Friend, which received the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction. Her other honors and awards include four Pushcart Prizes, a Whiting Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, the Rome Prize in Literature, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Foundation Award. Nunez is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Among the journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Paris Review, Threepenny Review, and Harper’s. She lives in New York City. 


Anne Raeff's second novel, Winter Kept Us Warm, was published in February 2018. Her short story collection, The Jungle Around Us, won the 2015 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. The collection was also a finalist for the California Book Award and was on the San Francisco Chronicle's 100 Best Books of 2017 list. Clara Mondschein's Melancholia, also a novel, was published in 2002. Raeff's stories and essays have appeared in New England ReviewZYZZYVA, and Guernica among other places. Raeff is proud to be a high school teacher and works primarily with recent immigrants. She lives in San Francisco with her wife and two cats. Finally, she is happy to announce that her third (still untitled) novel, which is set largely in Nicaragua and examines the long-term effects of colonialism, revolution, and war, will be published in the spring of 2020.


Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles received a BA from Yale and an MA in English from Stanford University. His thesis at Stanford, a short story cycle called The Temptations of Pleasure, was published in 1989 in Paris Review 112. Mr. Towles’s first novel, Rules of Civility, which was published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller and was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. The book has been translated into over twenty languages, its French translation receiving the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. Mr. Towles’s second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, which was published in 2016, was on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year in hardcover and was named one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR. The book is being translated into over thirty languages, including Russian. In the summer of 2017, the novel was optioned by eOne and the British director, Tom Harper, to be made into a six- to eight-hour miniseries starring Kenneth Branagh. Having worked as an investment professional for over twenty years, Mr. Towles now devotes himself full time to writing in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.