Our editors are looking for high quality literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that combine a distinct voice with a distinct vision. Our editors seek out and solicit promising work from authors that they encounter in the pages of magazines, at writing conferences, and in other venues.
Please note that we do not accept unsolicited submissions outside of open periods and contests.
The Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize
The Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize 2022—Announcement of No Award
After careful consideration in coordination with prize judge A. Igoni Barrett, we have decided not to award the African Fiction Prize this year. We were impressed with the quality and range of the submitted manuscripts, but we didn’t feel any were exactly right for our press or the prize. We thank all of the writers who submitted their work, and we’re grateful to all the organizations who helped us get the word out.
We’re also deeply indebted to the editorial insights and unerring instincts of A. Igoni Barrett, who judged the prize for three rounds from 2017-2022 and was instrumental in its inception. Here are some words from him:
“As previously agreed with Graywolf, this was to be my third and final time as the judge of the Graywolf Press Africa Fiction Prize. I’d been looking forward to continuing the winning streak that we all—writers, readers, the publisher—have enjoyed with this pioneering manuscript prize. Our first two winners, Khadija Abdalla Bajaber and Noor Naga, are now debut novelists whose voices have transcended any continental confines. Writers again responded in strong numbers to our submission call, and the Graywolf Press editors fulfilled their commitment to read every manuscript and compile a shortlist. But, after much thought, we took the narrow road by not awarding the prize this year. Our disappointment is nothing in comparison to the hopes of every writer who sent their work to us, for which we are grateful. This prize, despite any good intentions, would not succeed without your courageous and continuing participation. It has been my pleasure and pride, for all three editions of the prize, to read some of the most vital voices coming out of Africa. The prize will return with a new judge next time, and I look forward to reading, as a bystander and devotee, whatever new books emerge from this continent where the past, present, and future are stories still being written.”
We look forward to our next reading period in February 2023. We anticipate making some adjustments to the prize guidelines, but first novels and translations of first novels will continue to be eligible, and it will remain focused on African authors. Please keep an eye on our website for more details closer to that time.
In the meantime, please join us in celebrating the books that won the first two African Fiction Prizes, both now available for purchase: The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber and If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga. We couldn’t be prouder to have published them.
The Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize is awarded for a first novel manuscript by an author primarily residing in Africa. Founded in 2017 to facilitate direct access to publishing in the United States for a new generation of African writers, the prize is awarded every other year. Winners receive publication by Graywolf Press and a $12,000 advance.
Submissions must be full-length, previously unpublished novel manuscripts, either originally written in English or a complete English translation. If the submission is a translation, the translator need not live in Africa and the original-language book may be previously published. Agents are welcome to submit manuscripts for consideration.
The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber is the inaugural winner of the prize, and it will be published by Graywolf Press in October 2021. The next winner, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga, will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2022.
A. Igoni Barrett, the prize judge for the 2017–2021 prize cycles, is the author of the acclaimed novel Blackass and the story collection Love Is Power, or Something Like That. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Chinua Achebe Center and the Norman Mailer Center, as well as a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Residency. He lives in Nigeria.
The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize
*We’re currently reviewing the 2022 prize submissions and expect to announce a winner in August. All entrants will be notified in Submittable in due course.*
A $20,000 advance and publication by Graywolf Press will be awarded to the most promising and innovative literary nonfiction project by a writer not yet established in the genre. The winning author will also receive a $2,000 stipend intended to support the completion of their project.
The 2022 prize will be awarded to a manuscript in progress. We request that authors send a long sample from their manuscript, as well as a description of the work, as detailed below. We expect that we will work with the winner of the prize and provide editorial guidance toward the completion of the manuscript.
The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize emphasizes innovation in form and content, and we want to see projects that test the boundaries of literary nonfiction. We are less interested in straightforward memoirs, and we turn down a large number of them every year. The Graywolf editors are particularly interested in books that explore new approaches to cultural and literary criticism, as well as writing on craft. Before submitting your manuscript for the prize, please look at the books previously published as winners of the prize for examples of the type of work that we are seeking.
The 2022 prize will be judged by the Graywolf Press editors. The editors reserve the right to invite submissions or make exceptions. Agented submissions are also welcome. Manuscripts submitted for previous years’ prizes will not be reconsidered unless resubmission has been specifically requested by the Graywolf editors.
Former Winners on the Impact of the Nonfiction Prize
“[The Collected Schizophrenias] truly wouldn’t have come to be if it hadn’t been for the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. . . . If Graywolf hadn’t taken it, that would’ve been it; the book would’ve died on the vine. So I’m very, very glad that they did.”—Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias, from Lit Hub
“Graywolf changed my life. No other way to put it. They believed in a book no one else would have published. Maybe you have a book for them too?”—Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, via Twitter
Praise and Awards for Prior Nonfiction Prize Winners:
The Collected Schizophrenias
A New York Times Best Seller
Winner of a Whiting Award
“The Collected Schizophrenias is riveting, honest, and courageously allows for complexities in the reality of what living with illness is like—and we are lucky to have it in the world.”—NPR.org
The Empathy Exams
A New York Times Best Seller
“There is a glory to this kind of writing that derives as much from its ethical generosity . . . as it does from the lovely vividness of the language itself. . . . It’s hard to imagine a stronger, more thoughtful voice emerging this year.”—The New York Times Book Review
The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness
Winner of the PEN Open Book Award
A New York Times Notable Book
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism
“Equal parts blues shout, church sermon, interpretive dance, TED talk, lit-crit manifesto and mixtape . . . The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness is an ambitious blast of fact and feeling, a nervy piece of performance art.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism
“Eula Biss’ Notes From No Man’s Land is the most accomplished book of essays anyone has written or published so far in the 21st century.”—Salon
Prior winners of the prize include:
Lars Horn, for Voice of the Fish
Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint, for Names for Light
Esmé Weijun Wang for The Collected Schizophrenias
Angela Palm for Riverine
Margaret Lazarus Dean for Leaving Orbit
Leslie Jamison for The Empathy Exams
Kevin Young for The Grey Album
Eula Biss for Notes from No Man’s Land
Terese Svoboda for Black Glasses Like Clark Kent
Ander Monson for Neck Deep and Other Predicaments
Kate Braverman for Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles
Graywolf Press partners with the Academy of American Poets and Cave Canem to publish and promote the work of new and emerging writers.
Walt Whitman Award
The Walt Whitman Award is a $5,000 first book publication prize given to an American poet. In addition to publication and promotion by Graywolf Press, the winner receives an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, and a trip to New York City to attend the American Poets Prizes ceremony. The Academy of American Poets purchases copies of the winning book to distribute to thousands of its members. For more information please visit the Academy of American Poets website. Submissions are accepted between September 1 and September 30 of each year.
Cave Canem Poetry Prize
Graywolf Press is one of the publishers of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a first book award dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by African American poets. Graywolf publishes every third winner of the prize. More information is available on the Cave Canem website.
Agents may submit nonfiction submissions to the appropriate editor for consideration. Graywolf accepts submissions for the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize every other year; the next open submission period will be in 2022.
The winner of the 2020 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize is Lars Horn, for Voice of the Fish. Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint was the winner of the 2018 prize for Zat Lun, forthcoming. Previous winners include Esmé Weijun Wang for The Collected Schizophrenias, Leslie Jamison for The Empathy Exams, Kevin Young for The Grey Album, and Eula Biss for Notes from No Man’s Land.
Agents may submit fiction submissions to the appropriate editor for consideration. Graywolf accepts submissions for the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize every other year; the most recent submission period closed on August 31, 2021.
The winner of the 2019 Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize was If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga, and the winner of the 2018 prize was The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber. Both winners were selected by A. Igoni Barrett, author of the acclaimed novel Blackass.
The Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize is awarded for a first novel manuscript by an African author primarily residing in Africa. Submissions must be full-length, previously unpublished novel manuscripts, either originally written in English or a complete English translation.
The Craft of Writing
This collection of pieces on the craft of writing are contributed by Graywolf authors and staff members.