New Orleans-born T. Geronimo Johnson recently won the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for his novel Welcome to Braggsville. The award will be presented during a public ceremony at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge on Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Welcome to Braggsville is a socially provocative, dark comedy that explores political identity, racial anxiety, and cultural taboos. The Washington Times boasts that Welcome to Braggsville is “the most dazzling, most unsettling, most oh-my-God-listen-up novel you’ll read this year.” The book was also longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award.
The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence honors the legacy of Ernest J. Gaines, while inspiring and recognizing rising African-American fiction writers of excellence at a national level. The book award, initiated by donors of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, is now in its ninth year and offers a $10,000 cash prize to support the writer and help enable him to focus on his art of writing. Past winners of the award include Stephanie Powell Watts, Attica Locke, and Victor LaValle.
Born in New Orleans, T. Geronimo Johnson received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his M.A. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from UC Berkeley. The fellowships that he has held include a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford and an Iowa Arts Fellowship at the University of Iowa. He is also the director of the UC Berkeley Summer Creative Writing Program. His first novel, Hold It Till It Hurts, was published in 2012 and was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.
Click here to read a Room 220 piece on mythology and identity in Johnson’s Hold It Till It Hurts.