Wilkes University


Marco Kaye of Maplewood, N.J., Wins 2019 James Jones First Novel Fellowship Competition

The 28th Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship awarded first place and $10,000 to Marco Kaye of Maplewood, N.J., for his novel titled Levon. The competition is co-sponsored by the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University and the James Jones Literary Society.

The first runner-up was Lorinda Toledo of West Hollywood, Calif., for her novel The Nature of Fire. The runner-up was Latifa Ayad of Columbus, Ohio, for her novel The Realm Unknown. Runner-up winners receive $1,000.

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.” Jones was the author of the National Book Award-winning novel From Here to Eternity as well as the novels Some Came Running and The Thin Red Line. It is awarded to a North American author of a first novel-in-progress.

marco kayeFirst Place Winner:

Marco Kaye's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The New Yorker and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, among others. He received a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from New York University. He was an associate artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Marco lives in Maplewood, N.J., with his wife and three sons. The main character of Levon, his novel-in-progress, was inspired by a close friend who passed away in 2008.


Lorinda Toledo was born and raised in New Mexico, where her family has lived for many generations, and now makes her home in Los Angeles. An excerpt from her prize-winning novel The Nature of Fire was published in the winter 2019 issue of the Mississippi Review, and her most recent short fiction is forthcoming in The Normal School. She earned a doctorate in literature with a creative dissertation of fiction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where her writing and research were supported by multiple awards, including a Black Mountain Institute Fellowship and a Barrick Graduate Fellowship. She was previously a fiction editor at Witness Literary Magazine and an assistant editor at Lunch Ticket. She teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles and is a freelance journalist, editor and writing coach.


Latifa Ayad is a Libyan American writer who was born and raised in Sarasota, Fla. She was a 2018 MacDowell Fellow, the 2017 winner of the Master's Review/PEN America Flash Fiction Prize and won the Indiana Review 1/2K Prize. Ayad is a writer primarily concerned with identity, which she explores through reality, the paranormal and the magical. Her work is published in Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review and others. She resides in Columbus, Ohio.

Entering The James Jones First Novel Fellowship Competition

Requests for guidelines for entering the annual James Jones competition should be sent, along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, to James Jones First Novel Fellowship, c/o The Graduate Creative Writing Department, Wilkes University, 84 West South Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766, or via email to jamesjonesfirstnovel@wilkes.edu. The submission deadline for entries is March 15 of each year.

About the James Jones Literary Society

The James Jones Literary Society was founded in 1992 to further appreciation for Jones’s writings and to encourage academic study of his contributions to 20th century literature. In addition to the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, established by the JJLS in 1992 and now co-sponsored with Wilkes University, the society sponsors an essay contest for high school students and the annual James Jones Symposium at Eastern Illinois University. For more information, please visit jamesjonesliterarysociety.org.