Author T. Geronimo Johnson will receive the 2015 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence at a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge, organizers announced Tuesday.
The award recognizes outstanding work from rising African-American fiction writers while honoring Louisiana writer Ernest Gaines’ contributions to the literary world. It includes a $10,000 prize and is awarded annually by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
Johnson, a New Orleans native who lives in Berkeley, Calif., will read from his winning selection, “Welcome to Braggsville” during the ceremoney, which is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at firstname.lastname@example.org. The novel is a dark comedy about four University of California, Berkeley, students who stage a protest during a Civil War reenactment in rural Georgia.
Johnson serves as visiting professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he earned a master’s degree in fine arts. His first novel, “Hold it ’til it Hurts,” was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.
Gaines is a native of Pointe Coupee Parish whose critically acclaimed novel “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” was adapted into a made-for-TV movie that won nine Emmy awards. His novel “A Lesson Before Dying” published in 1993, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.
Gaines is a 2013 recipient of the National Medal of Arts, a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and a member of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.