Ernest J.Gaines Award graphic

One of America's best storytellers has inspired an award to recognize the literary works of talented Black authors.

The 14th annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence will award a cash prize of $15,000 for outstanding fiction – novels or short-story collections – that have been published in 2020. 

Gaines is the author of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, A Gathering for Old Men and A Lesson Before Dying, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He grew up in a sharecropper family in Louisiana and, despite an abbreviated education punctuated by cotton-picking, he wrote his first novel at age 17. Gaines, who died in 2019, spent more than 20 years as  a writer-in-residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The Gaines Award is presented by the Baton Rouge Foundation to honor his extraordinary contribution to the literary world. The award winner is chosen annually by a panel of professional writers and academics. A celebratory event is scheduled to be held Jan. 28, 2021 in downtown Baton Rouge.

The deadline for entries for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence is August 31. For more information, go to

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