Graywolf Press is not currently accepting unsolicited submissions (outside of prize submission periods), and there are no open submission periods currently scheduled.
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.
The Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize
ANNOUNCING THE SUBMISSION PERIOD FOR 2023 GRAYWOLF PRESS AFRICAN FICTION PRIZE
NOVELIST AND ESSAYIST TSITSI DANGAREMBGA TO JUDGE
January 3, 2023—Graywolf Press is pleased to announce that the submission period for the fourth Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize will run from February 1-28, 2023. The prize will be awarded for a first novel by an African author primarily residing in Africa and will be judged by Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of the Booker Prize short-listed This Mournable Body and the forthcoming Black and Female, in conjunction with the Graywolf editors.
Graywolf Press, a nonprofit American publisher, publishes work that is distinctive, artistically singular, and of a high literary quality. For this prize, the judge and the Graywolf editors are seeking novels that are engaged with the current moment and that approach contemporary issues with innovative prose and fresh perspectives.
Submissions must be full-length, previously unpublished first novels, or first novels published in Africa that have not been distributed or available for sale outside of the continent of Africa. The winning manuscript will receive a $12,000 advance and publication by Graywolf Press. We will be accepting submissions through our page on Submittable at www.graywolfpress.submittable.com. If you have questions or difficulty using the site, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Previous winners of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize include The House of Rust (October 2021) by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber and If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English (April 2022) by Noor Naga, both of which were selected by prize judge A. Igoni Barrett, author of Blackass and Love Is Power, or Something Like That. The House of Rust won the inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction and If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
“The Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize has changed my life in astonishing ways,” Khadija Abdalla Bajaber says, speaking to the experience of being the inaugural prize winner. “The road to publication is steep, and The House of Rust is the kind of book that could not have had a conventional journey to publication, as it presents a world that readers might not have encountered elsewhere. But Graywolf Press believed in the book, and they propelled this story into places that it might not have otherwise been able to go, taking it to such ambitious spaces that it feels audacious for a first novel. I’ve been guided and supported throughout, making the experience of publishing my first book feel far less overwhelming. Every success the book has had is as much about the dedicated work done by the press as it is the quality of the story itself.”
Speaking about her experience of winning the prize, Noor Naga says, “I couldn’t have imagined how transformative winning such a prize would be for my work or career. I am grateful for this arm tendered across the Atlantic, from Minneapolis to Cairo. In today’s increasingly conservative publishing climate, I believe such initiatives to be necessary for our literary health and cannot wait to hear the daring new voices from the continent that this prize will amplify in years to come.”
Tsitsi Dangarembga is the author of This Mournable Body, short-listed for the Booker Prize, and two previous novels including Nervous Conditions, winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She is also a filmmaker, playwright, and the director and founder of the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa Trust. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Graywolf Press is an award-winning independent publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of contemporary American and international literature. Founded in 1974, the press is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota (www.graywolfpress.org).
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 was published by Graywolf Press in October 2021. The second winner, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga, was 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.
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.