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Stephanie Powell Watts
Stephanie Powell Watts, associate professor of English at Lehigh University, was one of ten recipients of the Whiting Writers' Award in October 2013 by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. Her debut short story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need also received the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence in January of 2013. We Are Taking Only What We Need has been frequently honored in the past year. O magazine named the collection as one of 2013's Best Summer Reads. It was one of two finalists for The Hemingway Foundation /PEN Award, as well as a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, the John Gardner Short Story Award, the Foreword Review Prize, USABookNews.com Best Books and was on the longlist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize. It has been listed as one of the best books of 2012 by The New Yorker, The Kansas City Star, and other publications. Stories from the collection have appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology in 2008, Best New Stories from the South anthologies in 2007 and 2009, and two stories were cited as Distinguished Stories in the 2009 and 2011 Best American Short Stories anthologies. Watts's work chronicles the lives of young African Americans who come from, or live near, the "dark houses out on tangled dirt roads on the fringes of the county." Her stories draw on her experiences in fast food and factory jobs, and as a Jehovah's Witness minister to explore themes of loss, faith, and hope, giving voices to communities usually unheard. Watts joins a distinguished list of Gaines Award winners. Past recipients include Dinaw Mengestu, Victor Lavalle, and Jeffrey Renard. The award is named for one of the nation's most prominent writers and a son of Louisiana, Ernest J. Gaines and is administered by the Baton Rouge Foundation.
Jill Bialosky was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Her New York Times Bestselling memoir, History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life, was called "Extraordinarily useful...a source of solace and understanding" by Time Magazine, and "Eloquent, harrowing and wise, brave and necessary, and a gift for anyone who has lost a friend or family member to suicide” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Bialosky's collections of poems are Intruder (2008), which the LA Times called "sharply perceptive, reminding readers about the way life forces us to our knees while restoring us to our true selves”; Subterranean (2001); and The End of Desire (1997). Bialosky is also the author of the novels House Under Snow (2002) and The Life Room (2007). She is co-editor, with Helen Schulman, of the anthology Wanting A Child (1998). Bialosky has received a number of awards, including the Elliot Coleman Award in Poetry. Her poems and essays appear in The New Yorker, O Magazine, Paris Review, The Nation, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review among other publications..
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