Ursula K Le Guin Prize for Fiction Will Launch in 2022

The Ursula K. Le Guin Literary Trust today announced the creation of the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction, which will be given for the first time in 2022.

The $25,000 cash prize will be given to a writer for a single book-length work of imaginative fiction. The Trust’s press release says “the award is intended to recognize those writers she spoke of in her 2014 National Book Awards speech—realists of a larger reality, who can imagine real grounds for hope and see alternatives to how we live now.” The first prize will be awarded on October 21, 2022. October 21st was Ursula K. Le Guin’s birthday.

Ursula K. Le Guin. Photo by Eileen Gunn.

Le Guin was the winner of six Nebula Awards, seven Hugo Awards, was named a SFWA Grand Master, and in 2014 she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.  

Theo Downes-Le Guin, her son and literary executor, said, “Many will appreciate an irony in that Ursula herself was suspicious of literary awards and prizes. At the same time, she recognized their genuine value in honoring a writer and increasing visibility of good, undervalued writing. She also knew that a bit of money, at the right moment and in the right spirit, can be a turning point in a writer’s ability to continue writing. I hope the Prize will provide meaningful help and recognition to writers who might otherwise not receive it.”

The guidelines for eligibility are:

The Prize will be given to a writer whose work reflects the concepts and ideas that were central to Ursula’s own work, including but certainly not limited to: hope, equity, and freedom; non-violence and alternatives to conflict; and a holistic view of humanity’s place in the natural world.

To be eligible for the 2022 Prize, a book must also be:

  • A book-length work of imaginative fiction written by a single author.
  • Published in the U.S. in English or in translation to English. (In the case of a translated work winning the Prize, the cash prize will be equally divided between author and translator.)
  • Published in 2022.

A writer may receive the Prize only once.

The Prize also gives weight to those writers whose access to resources, due to race, gender, age, class or other factors, may be limited; who are working outside of institutional frameworks such as MFA programs; who live outside of cultural centers such as New York; and who have not yet been widely recognized for their work.

The nomination process for the prize is open to all; readers, authors, booksellers, publishers, librarians, and anyone else can nominate work they believe fits the prize criteria. The Trust will create a shortlist of finalists from the nominated works, and a panel of five jurors will read the shortlisted works.

The nomination period for the 2022 Prize will begin February 1, 2022, and full details are available at ursulakleguin.com/prize, where readers can also sign up to be notified when nominations open.

The inaugural year’s jurors are adrienne maree brown (Grievers); Becky Chambers (A Psalm for the Wild-Built); Molly Gloss (Unforseen); David Mitchell (Utopia Avenue); and Luis Alberto Urrea, (The House of Broken Angels).

David Mitchell said, “Ursula Le Guin’s visionary fiction entered my head when I was young and has never left. Her novels and stories defined, in part, my understanding of what fiction can do, should do, and why. I am deeply honoured to be a juror in the inaugural year of a literary prize created in Ursula’s memory, and I look forward to encountering new works of imaginative fiction which, like Ursula’s, glow in the dark.”

“Ursula Le Guin’s books are what made my younger self want to become a science fiction writer, so I consider it a huge honor to be part of the jury for this prize,” said Becky Chambers. “Fictional futures that give us something to point our compasses toward are a vital thing, and I’m so excited for the opportunity to help celebrate the voices continuing that work.”

[Based on a press release. Via Locus Online.]

3 thoughts on “Ursula K Le Guin Prize for Fiction Will Launch in 2022

  1. So nominations begin Feb 2022, and the prize is awarded October 2022, but the book must be published in 2022? Does that make sense? It does NOT MAKE SENSE! If the 2022 prize should go to books published in 2021, you must acquit.

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