Dzanc Books is pleased to announce the winner of this year’s Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction: The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher. It was selected from a pool of hundreds of manuscripts and eventually judged by three former Dzanc Books debut novelists: Chrissy Kolaya (Charmed Particles), Lindsey Drager (The Sorrow Proper), and Daniel A. Hoyt (This Book Is Not For You, winner of last year’s Prize for Fiction).
The novel follows Wynston Cleave, a black taxi driver on a small Caribbean island, whose life unravels when a deadly viral outbreak carried by cruise ship passengers leads to a destabilization of the island’s tourist economy, followed by riots, manhunts, and a devastating spiral of violence. Narrated by the sharp-witted roaches infesting Wynston’s taxi, The Wonder That Was Ours explores deep racial and class divides through the most unlikely eyes imaginable, taking a unique perspective on prejudice, compassion, and the absurdity of the human experience.
Hoyt, speaking about the manuscript, remarked, “Don’t let the omniscient cockroach narrators scare you. The Wonder That Was Ours is both funny and grim, jaunty and horrifying,” while Kolaya added, “What an unexpected pleasure! By the end of this book, I was in love and in awe. Professor Cleave, Dave, Helen, Tremor, and, yes, the cockroaches will remain in your hearts and your minds for a long time.” Drager said, “Through chiseled prose, potent imagery, and a hat tip to Kafka, Alice Hatcher’s comitragic cautionary tale about race and class is impossible to forget.”
Hatcher, a former academic historian, has previously been a finalist in contests hosted by Glimmer Train and Bellingham Review. She said of winning the prize: “I am deeply indebted to Dzanc Books’ editors and contest judges for giving my cockroach narrators a chance to speak, and for giving me hope that even the strangest visions can come to fruition. It is a huge honor to be named the winner of the Fiction Prize. I am deeply grateful, as well, for the friendship and support that members of Tucson’s writing community provided.”
The Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction was created to recognize daring, original, and innovative writing. 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. For more information, please visit www.dzancbooks.org