Angela Palm Wins the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize


Riverine by Angela Palm has been chosen as the newest winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. The book was selected from hundreds of manuscripts by Graywolf editors and judge Brigid Hughes of A Public Space. In addition to a spring 2016 publication, the prize comes with a $12,000 advance.


Riverine is a bold portrait of girlhood, adolescence, and adulthood that explores growing up in a small river town in rural Indiana. Over a century ago the Kankakee river was forcibly straightened to make way for farmland, but it floods and returns to its old course every year. Like the river, the girls and women in Riverine are drawn back to their origins. For Angela Palm, this means visiting a prison where a lost love is serving a life sentence for murder. A mesmerizing map of one woman’s life, Riverine is a brilliant melding of hybrid essays that use narrative form as a way for Palm to discover if she’ll ever be able to move on, despite all she’s left behind.


Riverine begins with a map,” said judge Brigid Hughes. “There is usually something reassuring about the affirmation of you are here, but for Angela Palm, here, the spot on the banks of the Kankakee River where she grew up, is a non-place, not really even a town, unclaimed and in-between, as she describes it, the detritus that held its own status. In these essays, Angela Palm is explorer, historian, memoirist, weaving together fact and fiction, then and now, to understand the bloodlines of the place that she both resists and returns to. Riverine is a beautiful book—both expansive and intimate—about homecoming and departure, the American ideal of reinvention and the ways we are bound to and bound by the past.” 


The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize is designed to honor and encourage the art of literary nonfiction, and is given to an outstanding manuscript by an emerging author who has published no more than two previous books of nonfiction. The forthcoming prizewinner, Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean, is scheduled for publication this May. Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams, the most recent prizewinner to be published, came out to widespread acclaim in April 2014 and was a New York Times best seller. Additional previous winners of the prize include Eula Biss, Kevin Young, Ander Monson, and others.


About Angela Palm

Angela Palm was raised in rural Indiana. She received degrees in English Literature and Criminal Justice from Saint Joseph’s College before working in politics and the editorial field. She now owns Ink & Lead Literary Services, is a contributor at BookTrib, and teaches occasional writing workshops. She is also the editor of Please Do Not Remove, an anthology of Vermont writers. Palm lives in Burlington, Vermont.


The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize is funded in part by endowed gifts from the Arsham Ohanessian Charitable Remainder Unitrust and the Ruth Easton Fund of the Edelstein Family Foundation.