Bryan Washington to receive Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence Jan. 30 at Manship Theatre

The 13th annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence ceremony will be presented by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30 at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts. Houston writer Bryan Washington will accept the honor for his debut novel, “Lot.”

Doors open at 6 p.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at

The annual Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed $15,000 prize created by The Foundation’s donors to recognize outstanding work by rising African-American fiction writers. It also honors the extraordinary contribution to the literary world made by native Louisiana writer, Ernest J. Gaines, who died in November 2019.

Washington will read from his short story collection, which was selected by a national panel of literary judges. “Lot” is set in the East End of Houston and features a young man as narrator who keenly watches others as they desperately struggle or thrive.

Washington’s fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Boston Review, and other publications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Houston and a master’s in creative writing from the University of New Orleans. He is a lecturer at Rice University.

During the Jan. 30 event, winners of the elementary, middle and high school writers’ competition will also be recognized. Winners include the following students:

1st – Samara Bryant – Buchanan Elementary – 5th Grade
2nd – Kirstyn Offord – Park Forest Elementary School – 5th Grade
3rd – Aditya Sekharan – Highland Elementary – 4th Grade

Middle School
1st – Fuller Stevens – Sherwood Middle – 8th Grade
2nd – Car’Liyah Carr – Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy – 8th Grade
3rd – Z’yona Owens – Glen Oaks Middle – 8th Grade

High School
1st – Charlie Roth – Episcopal High School – 11th Grade
2nd – Faith Wood – St. Joseph’s Academy – 12th Grade
3rd – Madison Roy – St. Joseph’s Academy – 12th Grade

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Zenobia Reed is a Ponchatoula native and the social media editor for The Drum Newspaper. Follow her work on twitter and Facebook @theDrumNews.