The Louise Meriwether First Book Prize
PresentED By The Feminist Press & TAYO Literary Magazine
The Louise Meriwether Prize:
In 1970, Louise Meriwether published her novel of life in the post–Harlem Renaissance era, Daddy Was a Number Runner. Nearly fifty years later it is still considered a classic. Following Paule Marshall’s 1959 Brown Girl, Brownstones, Daddy Was a Number Runner is one of the first contemporary American novels featuring a young black girl as the protagonist. The book inspired the careers of writers like Jacqueline Woodson and Bridgett M. Davis, among many others.
In order to celebrate Meriwether’s achievements and continue her legacy, the Feminist Press has partnered with TAYO Literary Magazine to launch a contest seeking the best debut books by women writers of color and nonbinary writers of color.
First time authors, submit your complete manuscript, either fiction, including novels and short story collections, or narrative memoir, of 50,000 to 80,000 words, and you could receive $5,000 and a publishing contract from the Feminist Press!
THE SUBMISSION PERIOD:
March 29, 2019 — June 28, 2019
More About the Prize:
The prize was founded in 2016 to honor author Louise Meriwether by publishing a debut work by a woman or nonbinary author of color. The prize is granted to a manuscript that follows in the tradition of Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner, one of the first contemporary American novels featuring a young Black girl as the protagonist. Meriwether’s groundbreaking text inspired the careers of writers like Jacqueline Woodson and Bridgett M. Davis, among many others. The prize continues this legacy of telling much-needed stories that shift culture and inspire new writers.
The winners of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize are:
Melissa Valentine (2019)—author of The Names of All the Flowers
Claudia D. Hernández (2018)—author of Knitting the Fog
YZ Chin (2017)—author of Though I Get Home
The 2020 entry period is now open.
The entry period is now open. It will close on June 28, 2019.
HOW TO ENTER:
The Louise Meriwether First Book Prize is open to fiction and narrative nonfiction by women of color and nonbinary writers of color. We do not accept poetry, plays, or academic texts.
All manuscripts should be sent to louisemeriwetherprize [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line “First Book Prize” followed by your name and book title.
Please send manuscript as a PDF.
You must include a cover letter as a separate attachment (also PDF) with the following information:
Manuscript word count
How your work fits with the Feminist Press
A brief list of writers (up to three) that you consider part of your writing lineage
If you are represented by a literary agent. If yes, please include for how long and if they are actively pitching your work.
The work submitted for consideration may not be under contract elsewhere.
One winner will be awarded a $5,000 advance (half at the time of the initial award and half upon publication) and a contract to publish their book with the Feminist Press in print and digital editions in spring 2021. We expect to work closely with the winner and provide editorial guidance on their manuscript.
The Louise Meriwether First Book Prize is open to women of color and nonbinary writers of color who are: residents of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, and US territories and possessions; 18 years of age or older at time of entry; and who have not had a book published or have a book under contract at the time of submission. All federal, state, and local regulations apply. LIMIT ONE ENTRY PER PERSON. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED. Candidates may not submit the same manuscript in subsequent years unless specifically invited by the Feminist Press. Employees of the Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine and their immediate family members and persons living in their household are not eligible to enter.
There will be two (2) rounds of judging, as follows:
Round 1: All entries will be reviewed by a group of judges made up of staff, board members, and allies of the Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine. Finalists for the prize will be notified in October 2019.
Round 2: The top five (5) submissions chosen in the first round will be reviewed by a panel of judges including Feminist Press executive director and publisher Jamia Wilson and TAYO Literary Magazine editor in chief Melissa R. Sipin. The panel will choose one manuscript as the winning entry from that group. The winner will be announced in March 2020.
The Feminist Press, TAYO Literary Magazine, and distinguished judges YZ Chin, Glory Edim, Tyler Ford, Natalia Oberti Noguera, Brontez Purnell, Emily Raboteau, Melissa R. Sipin, and Jamia Wilson are honored to award the 2019 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize to Melissa Valentine for her memoir, The Names of All the Flowers. Transporting readers to 1990s Oakland, Valentine shares the grief, despair, and rage she experienced when her nineteen-year-old brother, Junior, was murdered. Writes Valentine, “The story connects one tragic Black-on-Black death to a collective grief for all Black boys who die early deaths.” The book will be published by the Feminist Press in the summer of 2020.
Melissa Valentine was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Her nonfiction has appeared in Guernica, Jezebel, Apogee, and BLACKBERRY, among others. Valentine is a graduate of the MFA program at Mills College. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Meet the Past Winners
of the LM Prize:
Winner of 2018 prize: Claudia Hernández!
The Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine are honored to award the 2017 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize to Claudia Hernández. In Knitting the Fog, Hernández shares the story of her family’s migration from Guatemala to the United States, fusing poetry and narrative essay.
Claudia Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She is a mother, photographer, poet, translator, and bilingual educator residing in LA. Hernández holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is the founder of the ongoing project Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color. She cites Joy Harjo, Sandra Cisneros, and Lidia Yuknavich as literary ancestors and inspirations. Her winning book was published by the Feminist Press in 2019. Purchase the winning book here!
Winner of 2017 prize: YZ Chin!
The Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine are honored to award the 2016 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize to YZ Chin. Chin’s short story collection, Though I Get Home, explores oppression, dissent, artistic freedom, and the human condition through a series of interconnected vignettes set primarily in Malaysia.
YZ Chin was born and raised in Taiping, Malaysia. She now lives in New York, working as a software engineer by day and writer by night. She cites Karen Tei Yamashita, Toni Morrison, and Shirley Jackson as literary ancestors and inspirations. Her winning collection of stories, Though I Get Home, was published by The Feminist Press in Spring 2018. Purchase the winning book here!
FIRST ROUND JUDGES OF 2018 PRIZE
[from TAYO Prize committee]
FIRST ROUND JUDGES OF 2017 PRIZE
[from TAYO Prize committee]
FIRST ROUND JUDGES OF 2019 PRIZE
[from TAYO Prize committee]
More for information on the LM Prize, please visit: