Dzanc Books is pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 Dzanc Books Nonfiction Prize: The One You Get: Portrait of a Family Organism. In addition to publication in Fall 2017, the prize also comes with a $1,000 advance. It was selected from a pool of hundreds of manuscripts by the editors of Dzanc Books.
This beautifully written, fresh take on the memoir covers the author’s crazy hippie childhood, full of drugs and a cast of outlandish characters doing absurd things. Tougaw also uses his background in neuroscience to explain why these characters act as they do: the effects of LSD on his mother’s brain, or what happens when the family dog accidentally overdoses on acid.
Tougaw’s teenage mother was the daughter of legendary Hall of Fame jockey, Ralph Neves. While his mother’s childhood was lived amongst celebrities, Tougaw’s childhood was spent living on buses with a series of step-fathers, finding his identity in the punk and mod movement of the time, but also his sexual identity as a young gay man.
Dzanc Books Editor-in-Chief Guy Intoci noted, “The memoir is both shocking and moving, by turns laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking. The neuroscientific passages lend a whole other dimension to the book, and I can’t wait for readers to get a look at what’s been swirling around in Tougaw’s head.”
Jason Tougaw is an Associate Professor of English at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center, where he teaches literature courses on topics drawing on psychology and neuroscience, including dreams, consciousness, memory, and trauma. Of his memoir and winning the prize, Tougaw said, “My family is an organism with a forceful drive to tell its stories, especially the ones that pit our peculiarities against the forces of polite decorum. ‘There’s something wrong with our brains,’ I learned from a young age. Build a monumental bridge and one of us will climb it naked to direct traffic. Another of us will become a writer obsessed with the idea that brain science could make sense of our broken brains and the stories they spill. I’m thrilled that Dzanc has chosen my book for its nonfiction prize—and to help our lore spin its way into the hands and brains of readers.”
The Dzanc Books Nonfiction Prize is awarded annually for innovative and inspiring works of nonfiction. Past winners include Amy Benson’s Seven Years to Zero and Carole Firstman’s Origins of the Universe and What It All Means. Dzanc Books is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization not only committed to producing quality literary works but providing creative writing instruction in public schools through the Dzanc Writers-in-Residence program and offering low-cost workshops for aspiring authors. Dzanc Books also runs annual prizes for novels and short story collections. For more information on the house, upcoming titles, and other prize winners, please visit www.dzancbooks.org