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  • Bibiana Ossai

Inaugural Book Prize Winner Announced

Marianne Erhardt, winner of IHLR Book Prize

We are pleased to announce that Texas Tech Press has selected Marianne Erhardt’s collection of essays, Lucky Bodies, as this year’s winner. As the winner of our prize, Marianne will receive $1,000 honorarium, and her collection will be published by Texas Tech University Press sometime this summer. Marianne Jay Erhardt lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with her family. Her writing appears in Orion, Kenyon Review, Oxford American, Electric Literature, Conjunctions, and other fine publications. Her work has been recognized and supported by a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship, a VanderMey Nonfiction Prize, and a residency at Vermont Studio Center. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Writing Program at Wake Forest University. Lucky Bodies is her first book. 


About Marianne's book, Katie Cortese, the Director of TTU Press, writes: "I loved the language and the moving depictions of parenthood, which felt true and full of sentiment without resorting to truisms or sentimentality. I read this one early, but it stayed right at the top of my list nearly the whole way. I think it will be a great fit for the series."


We hope you enjoy Lucky Bodies as much as we did. We also want to acknowledge other works that stood out to us as we went through so many exceptional manuscripts. We could only publish one book this year, but here are our runners-up and finalists for the inaugural book prize. All the luck in the world to them in placing their collections soon.


Other ranking finalists include:

1st Runner-Up: Steve Chang’s The Shattered World and Other Kaleidoscopes (fiction)

2nd Runner-Up: Katherine Connor’s The Hanged Man (fiction)

3rd Runner-Up: Allison Field Bell’s Bodies of Other Women (nonfiction)

Thank you again to all who submitted to the prize.

Here are the blurbs for our previous two winners and a link to purchase them while we wait for Lucky Bodies to be released in late Fall 2024 or early Spring of 2025:

The Birthright of Sons is a collection of stories centered around the experiences of marginalized people, namely Black and LGBTQ+ men. Although the stories borrow elements from various genres (horror, suspense, romance, magical realism, etc.), they are linked by an exploration of identity and the ways personhood is shaped through interactions with the people, places, and belief systems around us. Purchase here.

Underpinning the project is a core tenet: self-definition is fluid, but conflict arises because society often fails to keep pace with personal evolution. In each of these stories, the protagonists grapple with their understanding of who they are, who and how they love, and what is ultimately most important to them. In almost every case, however, the quest to know or protect oneself is challenged by an external force, resulting in violence, crisis, or confusion, among other outcomes.

The Birthright of Sons colors in “the other” as three-dimensional by highlighting the unique obstacles that marginalized people face while simultaneously centering their humanity and unearthing universal struggles and commonalities. Be it experiencing a sexual awakening, contemplating the cumulative effects of racial tension in the workplace, or searching desperately for a moment of peace in the attention economy, the collection amplifies underrepresented voices in a playful and contemporary way, elevating, critiquing, and confronting its characters.

The sixteen stories in the collection Sing With Me at the Edge of Paradise surround queer men of various ages—teenagers, young adults, men in middle age—trying to temper their expectations of the world with their lived experience. Using the lens of the bizarre and fantastic, these stories explore discontent, discomfort, and discovery. Purchase here.

In “Melt With You,” a twenty-something learns that his boyfriend can slip into walls, a trick that becomes a sticking point during tumultuous, challenging moments in their relationship; the main character in “Shearing” is a barber who can read the minds of his clients but must sacrifice his own bits of memory to do so; “There Won’t Be Questions” features a young man who can summon lost animals to a shoebox, but suffers for it, both via physical illness and the crumbling of his relationship with his closest friend.

In the title story, the Garden of Eden starts to appear in various places around the world, and the narrator, looking down at the Trees of Life and Knowledge, must make an impossible decision regarding the most important relationship he’s ever had.


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