Dzanc Books is pleased to announce the winner of this year’s Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction: Bloomland by John Englehardt. It was selected from a pool of hundreds of manuscripts and eventually judged by three celebrated Dzanc Books authors: Emily Geminder (Dead Girls), John Domini (Movieola!), and Alice Hatcher (The Wonder That Was Ours), winner of last year’s Prize for Fiction.
Bloomland plays out against the backdrop of a mass shooting at a fictional southern college. Through multiple perspectives, the legacy of the shooting fragments and harrows the lives of three characters: a survivor who drops out to become a death doula, a teacher whose deteriorating marriage is interrupted when his wife is killed, and a young man whose radicalization funnels him into the role of an aggressor. Geminder says of the manuscript, “Englehardt paints a searing portrait of violence and its aftermath, a haunting reckoning with death that shimmers and pulses with life.”
Hatcher says, “Englehardt’s unflinching look at gun violence points to the many forms of social and cultural dysfunction that condition mass shootings and our inadequate responses to them.” Domini adds, “A handful of brave novels have tried to count the toll taken by such slaughters, but none match Bloomland for portraying the monster of mass violence as so irredeemably American.”
Englehardt, a former Hugo House fellow and graduate of University of Arkansas’ MFA program, has won awards including Sycamore Review's Wabash Prize in Fiction and The Stranger's A&P fiction contest.. He said of winning the prize: “I didn’t know what future to expect for a novel attempting to confront the social roots of a mass shooting, so I’m incredibly grateful it found a home at Dzanc, a press I’ve long admired for its list of socially conscious, formally innovative fiction. I’m indebted to the people at Hugo House, my talented editor friends, and the Seattle writing community for helping to ensure I was not writing in a creative echo chamber.”
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.