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Danbury's WestConn Picks Winners Of Housatonic Book Awards

Western Connecticut State University.
Western Connecticut State University. Photo Credit: File

DANBURY, Conn. — The first Housatonic Book Awards recognizing excellence in the areas of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and writing for middle grades and young adults have been awarded.

The awards were created last spring by the Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing program at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury in cooperation with the Master of Fine Arts Alumni Writers’ Cooperative. 

Winners in each category were selected in October and each will receive a $1,000 honorarium and $500 travel stipend to appear during an master of fine arts program residency to give a public reading and present a master class to master of fine arts students. 


The winner is "Cartwheel," by Jennifer DuBois. The finalists are “The Fifty-First State,” by Lisa Borders; “The Mourning Hours,” by Paula Treick DeBoard; “My Notorious Life,” by Kate Manning; and “River of Dust,” by Virginia Pye.


The winner is “Begin Empty-Handed,” by Gail Martin. The finalists are “Beauty Mark,” by Suzanne Cleary; “Large White House Speaking,” by Mark Irwin; “American Amnesiac,” by Diane Raptosh and “Vestigial,” by Page Hill Starzinger.


The winner is “Bootstrapper,” by Mardi Jo Link (Knopf). The finalists are“Scattered: The Forced Relocation of Poland’s Ukrainians after WWII,” by Diana Howansky Reilly; “The Blind Masseuse,” by Alden Jones; “The Next Scott Nadelson,” by Scott Nadelson and “Becoming Tom Thumb,” by Eric Lehman.

Writing for Middle Grades and Young Adults

The winner is “Brotherhood,” by A.B. Westrick. The finalists are “Rules for Ghosting,” by A.J. Paquette; “Lone Wolves,” by John Smelce; “After Isaac,” by Avra Wing; and “Over the Line,” by David Lloyd.

DuBois and poetry Martin will read from their work during the Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing winter residency. Martin will read at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 3, and. DuBois will read at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 4, in the President’s Reception Room, Room 218 of the Classroom Building on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Avenue Extension in Danbury. 

Ron Samul, president of the Alumni Writers’ Cooperative, said the awards will carry benefits beyond the mission that aims to promote excellent writing, identify authors who serve as professional role models for writing students, and develop the WCSU Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing program scholarship fund. 

M.F.A. coordinator Brian Clements added, “The awards will continue the M.F.A. program’s tradition of bringing excellent authors to Danbury, but we expect these awards to go quickly beyond local interest and achieve national prestige. The Housatonic Book Awards will become an annual event of wide appeal to readers, authors and publishers, similar to the American Book Awards or National Book Awards.” 

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