2014 FINALISTS

Stacia Brown
Accidents of Providence (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Book: London, 1649: King Charles has been beheaded for treason, Cromwell is in power, the Levelers—a small faction of political agitators—are demanding rights for the people, and a new law targeting unwed mothers and "lewd women" presumes anyone who conceals the death of her illegitimate child is guilty of murder. Unmarried glovemaker, Rachel Lockyer, is locked in a secret affair with William Walwyn, Leveler hero. But while her lover is imprisoned in the Tower, a child is found buried in the woods. Rachel is arrested. So comes an investigation, a trial, and an extraordinary cast of characters all brought to reckon for this one life. Spinning within is a remarkable love story and evidence that miracles come to even the commonest lives.

The Author: Stacia Brown holds graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University. She began writing Accidents of Providence from research conducted for her dissertation on martyrs in seventeenth century England. After college she worked as a swing-shift monitor for a 250-bed homeless shelter in San Francisco. Stacia lives, works, and writes in Atlanta, Georgia. Accidents of Providence is her first novel.

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Amber Dermont
The Starboard Sea (St. Martin's Griffin)

The Book: Jason Prosper grew up in the elite world of Manhattan penthouses, Maine summer estates, old-boy prep schools, and exclusive sailing clubs. A smart, athletic teenager, Jason maintains a healthy, humorous disdain for the trappings of affluence, preferring to spend afternoons sailing with Cal, his best friend and boarding-school roommate. When Cal commits suicide during their junior year at Kensington Prep, Jason is devastated by the loss and transfers to Bellingham Academy. There, he meets Aidan, a fellow student with her own troubled past. They embark on a tender, awkward, deeply emotional relationship. When a major hurricane hits the New England coast, the destruction it causes brings with it another upheaval in Jason's life, forcing him to make sense of a terrible secret that has been buried by the boys he considers his friends.

The Author: Amber Dermont received her MFA in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including Dave Eggers's Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005, Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope: All-Story, and Jane Smiley's Best New American Voices 2006. A graduate of Vassar College, Amber received her Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston. She currently serves as an associate professor of English and creative writing at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, and is also the author of the story collection Damage Control.

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Joshilyn Jackson
Someone Else's Love Story (William Morrow)

The Book: Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She's got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the robber and her son. Shandi doesn't know that her blond god has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It's been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn't define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, William sees destiny as a choice. Now he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.

The Author: Joshilyn Jackson is The New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including gods in Alabama and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actress, Joshilyn is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.

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Sheri Joseph
Where You Can Find Me (Thomas Dunne Books)

The Book: A week after his eleventh birthday, Caleb Vincent vanishes with hardly a trace. After a three-year search, he is found living a seemingly normal life under a new name with a man he calls his father. While outwardly stunned with joy at his safe recovery, Caleb's parents and sister are privately scrambling to gather together the pieces of a shattered family. To escape the relentless media attention surrounding her son's return, Caleb's mother, Marlene, decides to flee the country and seek refuge in Costa Rica with Caleb and his younger sister, against her estranged husband's wishes. There Marlene forms a makeshift household with her husband's expat mother and his charming, aimless older brother, all residing in a broken-down hotel perched at the blustery apex of the continental divide. In the clouds of their new home, the mystery of Caleb's time gone unfolds while new dangers threaten to pull him back toward his former life.

The Author: Sheri Joseph is the author of Stray, winner of the Grub Street National Book Prize, and Bear Me Safely Over. In addition to numerous residencies and fellowships, she has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for the first chapter of Where You Can Find Me. Sheri lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she teaches in the creative writing program at Georgia State University and serves as fiction editor of Five Points.

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Charles McNair
Pickett's Charge (Livingston Press)

The Book: At 114 years old, Threadgill Pickett believes he is the only living Civil War veteran. He bides his time at a retirement home in Mobile, Alabama, where he nurses a great vengeance over something terrible that befell him as a boy on a journey to join the Confederate army. On a day in turbulent 1964, Threadgill's long-dead brother, Ben, visits him with the news that one Union soldier remains alive, in faraway Bangor, Maine. Threadgill Pickett doffs an old hat with a yellowhammer feather in its band and heads north to fight the last battle of the Civil War. Through one improbable adventure after another, he finds himself forced to reexamine notions of valor and vengeance he has held so fiercely for so long.

The Author: Charles McNair released his first novel, Land O' Goshen, to critical acclaim with the book being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1994. Charles currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia where he writes full time, combining freelance literary duties with assignments for corporations and businesses, including "Power of Storytelling" workshops. Since 2005, he has served as books editor for Paste magazine and has shared his book reviews on Atlanta radio station WMLB 1690 AM. Charles is currently at work on his third novel, The Epicureans.

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Jamie Quatro
I Want To Show You More: Stories (Grove Press)

The Book: Set around Lookout Mountain on the border of Georgia and Tennessee, Quatro's hypnotically revealing stories range from the traditional to the fabulist as they expose lives torn between spirituality and sexuality in the New American South. These fifteen linked tales confront readers with dark theological complexities, fractured marriages, and mercurial temptations. Throughout the collection, a mother in her late thirties relates the various stages of her affair while other characters lay bare their own notions of God, illicit sex, raising children, and running: a wife comes home with her husband to find her lover's corpse in their bed; marathon runners on a Civil War battlefield must carry phallic statues and are punished if they choose to unload their burdens; a girl's embarrassment over attending a pool party with her quadriplegic mother turns to fierce devotion under the pitying gaze of other guests; and a husband asks his wife to show him how she would make love to another man. I Want to Show You More is a New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, Indie Next pick, and New York Times Editors' Choice. It was named a Top 10 Book of 2013 by Dwight Garner in The New York Times and a Favorite Book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker. The collection is also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize.

The Author: Jamie Quatro's work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, McSweeney's, AGNI, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, as well as 2013 fellowships from both the Bread Loaf and the Sewanee Writers' Conferences. Her stories are anthologized in the O. Henry Prize Stories 2013 and in the 9th edition of The Story and Its Writer. Jamie holds graduate degrees from the College of William and Mary and the Bennington College Writing Seminars, and is a contributing editor at Oxford American magazine. She lives with her family in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

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Josh Russell
A True History of the Captivation, Transport to Strange Lands, and Deliverance of Hannah Guttentag (Dzanc Books)

The Book: Like the Puritan-era narratives of captivity she studies, Hannah Guttentag's early-1990s narrative is a chronicle of the strange places to which she travels during graduate school—Nashville, Ithaca, New Orleans, Cleveland, Nebraska—the savages who captivate her—librarians, grad students, professors, her baby—and the redemption she earns.

The Author: Josh Russell is the author of two previously published novels: Yellow Jack and My Bright Midnight. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Prose, the Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze Medal for Literary Fiction, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Shane Stevens Fellowship in the Novel. His shorter prose has appeared in several dozen magazines, textbooks, and anthologies, most recently Epoch, Copper Nickel, and Not Normal, Illinois. Josh is a professor of English at Georgia State University and the co-director of the institution's creative writing program. Josh lives in Decatur, Georgia with his wife and daughter.

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Susan Rebecca White
A Place at the Table (Touchstone)

The Book: A Place at the Table tells the story of three unforgettable characters whose paths converge in a storied Manhattan café: Bobby, a young gay man from Georgia who has been ostracized by his family; Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman whose life is upended when a family secret comes to light; and Alice, an African-American chef from North Carolina whose heritage is the basis of a renowned cookbook but whose past is a mystery to those who know her. These characters are exiles—from homeland, from marriage, from family. As the narrative sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to Manhattan during the deadly AIDS epidemic of the 1980s to the well-heeled hamlet of contemporary Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Bobby, Amelia, and Alice are asked to sacrifice everything they ever knew or cared about to find authenticity and fulfillment.

The Author: Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Susan Rebecca White earned a B.A. in English from Brown University, then moved to San Francisco, where she taught and waited tables for several years, before moving to Virginia to earn her MFA in creative writing from Hollins University. At Hollins, she was a teaching fellow and the recipient of the James Purdy Prize for outstanding fiction. Susan is the author of two other novels: Bound South and A Soft Place to Land. She currently lives in Atlanta, where she teaches creative writing at Emory University.

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Philip Lee Williams
Emerson's Brother (Mercer University Press)

The Book: Few people know that Ralph Waldo Emerson had a mentally challenged brother. Now, in a deeply moving novel in letters, noted writer Philip Lee Williams imagines the last year of Bulkeley Emerson's sad but transcendent life spent living with a farm family in Massachusetts. Bulkeley deals in his own way with many of the themes Waldo did, including nature, self-reliance, and love. Writing letters to his brother and friends such as Henry David Thoreau, Bulkeley Emerson aches with the need to express himself, trapped as he is in the prison of his own genetics. Though Bulkeley's journey toward the end of his life can be agonizing and filled with unfilled longing, there is a quiet acceptance, too, as he nears his time to become part of nature itself.

The Author: Philip Lee Williams is the much-honored author of sixteen published books, including three nonfiction works and two volumes of poetry. He won the 2004 Michael Shaara Prize for the novel A Distant Flame, and in 2011 his poetic work, The Flower Seeker: An Epic Poem of William Bartram, won the Books & Culture Book of the Year Award. Philip has been the recipient of a Governor's Award in the Humanities. He is also a member of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. The author lives with his family in Oconee County, Georgia.

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Anthony Winkler
God Carlos (Akashic Books)

The Book: God Carlos transports us to a voyage aboard the Santa Inez, a Spanish sailing vessel bound for the newly discovered West Indies with a fortune-seeking band of ragtag sailors. She is an unusual explorer for her day, carrying no provisions for the settlers, no seed for planting crops, manned by vain, arrogant men looking for gold in Jamaica. Expecting to make a landfall in paradise after over a month at sea, the crew of the Santa Inez instead find themselves in the middle of a timid, innocent people—the Arawaks—who walk around stark naked without embarrassment and who venerate their own customs and worship their own gods and creeds. The European newcomers do not find gold, only the merciless climate that nourishes diseases that slaughter them. The Arawaks' belief that the European arrivals are from heaven further complicates this impossible entanglement of culture, custom, and beliefs, ultimately leading to mutual doom.

The Author: Anthony Winkler was born in Kingston, Jamaica and is widely recognized as one of the island's finest exports. His first published novel, The Painted Canoe, received critical acclaim and was followed by more than seven other works, including his biography, Trust the Darkness: My Life as a Writer. After being expelled from high school for refusing to submit to corporal punishment, Anthony made his way to California where he attended Citrus College and California State University, earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. The author's writing credits also include film scripts and plays. Anthony lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Cathy.

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