Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize

Esmé Weijun Wang is the winner of the 2016 prize for The Collected Schizophrenias. Read the press release for the announcement. Brigid Hughes, founding editor of A Public Spacejudged the 2016 prize.


The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize is currently closed for submissions. The 2016 prize was open from January 1-31, 2016. As the prize is awarded to a manuscript in progress, submissions for the prize are held every other year to allow for the longer lead time needed to develop and publish the winning manuscripts. 


A $12,000 advance and publication by Graywolf will be awarded to the most promising and innovative literary nonfiction project by a writer not yet established in the genre. The 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 project. The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize emphasizes innovation in form, 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. 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 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize seeks to acknowledge—and honor—the great traditions of literary nonfiction. Whether grounded in observation, autobiography, or research, much of the most beautiful, daring, and original writing over the past few decades can be categorized as nonfiction. Submissions to the prize might span memoir, biography, or history.


The judge of the 2014 and 2016 prizes was Brigid Hughes, founding editor of A Public Space, an independent magazine of literature and culture. The magazine is based in Brooklyn, where she also curates a fiction and film series with the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Previously, she worked at The Paris Review, where she succeeded George Plimpton as editor.


From 2005–2012, the prize was judged by Robert Polito, author of Hollywood & God, Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson, Doubles, and A Reader’s Guide to James Merrill’s The Changing Light at Sandover, and the founding Director of the graduate writing program at the New School in New York City. From 2013-2015 he was President of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, before returning to the New School, where he is Professor of Writing.


Previous winners:

Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here by Angela Palm

Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean
The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison
The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness by Kevin Young
Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays by Eula Biss
Black Glasses Like Clark Kent: A GI’s Secret from Postwar Japan by Terese Svoboda
Neck Deep and Other Predicaments by Ander Monson
Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles: An Accidental Memoir by Kate Braverman 


Eligibility: Any writer who is not yet established in the genre and resides in the United States is eligible. Writers do not need to have prior publication to be eligible. We will consider one submission per person.  Agented submissions are also welcome. Manuscripts submitted for previous years’ prizes will not be reconsidered unless resubmission has been specifically requested by Graywolf’s editors or the judge. Graywolf’s editors and the prize judge reserve the right to invite submissions or make exceptions.


Timeline: Submittable will be open for Nonfiction Prize submissions during the submission month only. The 2016 nonfiction prize was open for submissions from January 1-31, 2016. Submissions for the prize closed at 12:00 a.m. midnight (CST) on January 31, 2016.


Procedure: Only electronic submissions will be considered. Upload your manuscript file to Submittable. Please include the required materials as the initial pages of your manuscript file. Submissions should follow these formatting guidelines: twelve-point font, double-spaced text, numbered pages. Note that we only accept PDF or Word files (.doc and .docx). When submitting, please select "Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize" as the submission genre. Submittable allows you to check the status of the manuscript and streamlines the process of entering the prize. It will be open for Nonfiction Prize submissions during the submission month only. 


Required materials: All required materials should be included as the initial pages of your manuscript file. Incomplete submissions will not be considered. Please submit the following items:
• A one-page cover letter containing a one-paragraph biographical statement and brief (2-4 sentence) description of the project. Please include any previous publications in the biographical statement. The cover letter should be single-spaced.
• A two to ten-page overview of the project, including a description of what is already complete and what work remains to be finished. The overview should be double spaced.
• A minimum of 100 pages (25,000 words) from the manuscript. All required materials should be included as the initial pages of your manuscript file. 
The manuscript should be double spaced. 


Notification for submissions: All submissions will receive an email response after the winner has been chosen. We cannot answer any queries about the status of manuscripts. 


The winner will be notified directly, and public announcement of the winner will be made on our website. All decisions are final, and the judge cannot comment on individual submissions.


Submit to the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize.