Mitchell S. Jackson wins Ernest Gaines award

THE BATON ROUGE AREA Foundation has named Mitchell S. Jackson winner of the 2014 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for his novel The Residue Years.

Now in its eighth year, the Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed, $10,000 annual prize created by foundation donors to honor outstanding work from rising Black fiction writers while honoring Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world. The Residue Years, published in 2013 by Bloomsbury Books, is a semi-autobiographical novel based on Jackson’s experience growing up in Portland, Ore., in a neighborhood ravaged by violence and drug use. The novel follows a former addict trying to steer her three sons away from drugs.

Mitchell S. Jackson earned a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and a master’s in creative writing from New York University, where he now teaches. He also earned fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Urban Artists Initiative and The Center for Fiction.His previous honors include the Hurston Wright Foundation award for college writers.In 2012, he published the e-book “Oversoul: Stories and Essays.”

Previous winners of the Ernest J. Gaines award include Attica Locke for “The Cutting Season”, Stephanie Powell Watts for “We Are Taking Only What We Need” and Dinaw Mengestu for How to Read the Air.

Gaines is a native of Pointe Coupee Parish, La. and became a literary legend and infl uential American author. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of publication of his first novel, Catherine Carmier and the 40th anniversary of the adaptation of his critically acclaimed novel,The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, into a madefor-TV movie in 1974 that won nine Emmy awards. Gaines novel, A Lesson Before Dying, published in 1993, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.