The 22nd Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship awarded first place and $10,000 to Margot Singer of Granville, Ohio, for her manuscript titled The Art of Fugue. The competition is co-sponsored by the Wilkes University Graduate Creative Writing Program and the James Jones Literary Society.
The James Jones First Novel Fellowship was established in 1992 to “honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture as exemplified by (the writings of) James Jones.” It is awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress. This year’s competition drew 666 submissions.
Loosely taking the musical form of a fugue and set in London during the summer of 2005, The Art of Fugue interweaves the stories of four characters: Esther, a woman returning to London to care for her dying mother; her neighbor, Javed, an Iranian neuroscientist struggling to know his teenage son; Esther’s mother, Lonia, whose thoughts are drawn to memories of fleeing Europe on the cusp of the Second World War; and Javed’s son Amir, a young man seeking identity and escape. Offering a fresh take on the post-9/11 novel genre, The Art of Fugue explores the insecurity and displacement that follow on the shock waves of political violence and personal loss.
Singer currently directs the creative writing program at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where she also serves as Dominic Consolo Associate Professor of English. She is the winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction, and the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers. Singer is also the co-editor of Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction (Bloomsbury, 2013). Singer is a graduate of Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Utah.
Runners-up in the competition were Jennifer S. Davis of Baton Rouge, La., for her manuscript Reckonings; and Timothy Brandoff of New York, N.Y., for his manuscript Connie Sky. They were each awarded $750.
Tamara B. Titus, of Charlotte, N.C., received honorable mention for her manuscript Lovely in the Eye.
Requests for guidelines for entering the annual competition should be sent, along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, to James Jones First Novel Fellowship, c/o The Graduate Creative Writing Department, 84 West South Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
. The submission deadline for entries is March 1 of each year.