Longwood University is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2020 John Dos Passos Prize, the oldest literary award given by a Virginia college or university, which honors one of America’s most talented but underappreciated writers.

This year’s six finalists selected by the John Dos Passos Prize jury are celebrated authors whose published works traverse genre and defy expectations. Their exceptional works are taught in college classrooms across the country.

The 2020 finalists with selected works are:

Alexander Chee: The Queen of the Night; Edinburgh
Aleksandar Hemon: The Lazarus Project; Nowhere Man
Gish Jen: Typical American; The Resisters
Dana Johnson: Elsewhere, California; Break Any Woman Down
Hari Kunzru: White Tears; Gods Without Men
Valeria Luiselli: The Story of My Teeth; Lost Children Archive

The John Dos Passos Prize for Literature is given annually by Longwood University to an underappreciated writer whose work offers incisive, original commentary on American themes. The winner of the prize receives an honorarium and will give a reading on Longwood’s campus in the spring.

The 2020 Dos Passos Prize selection jury comprises last year’s winner, author Rabih Alameddine; Brandon Haffner, assistant professor of English at Longwood and chair of the selection jury; and award-winning author, scholar and activist Christina Chiu.

“These finalists represent everything the Dos Passos Prize for Literature is about. Their books are innovative, smart, challenging and resistant to easy categorization,” Haffner said. “We have the difficult task of selecting one of them as the Dos Passos Prize recipient this fall, and the winner will join an impressive list of some of America’s most celebrated authors. These finalists represent various styles, subjects and places, but all six explore crucial truths about the American experience.”

Previous winners of the Dos Passos Prize have gone on to win prestigious literary awards, including Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards. They include Colson Whitehead, Sherman Alexie, Jill McCorkle, Tom Wolfe and Annie Proulx.

The prize winner will be announced in September 2020. ​

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