The annual Porter Fund Literary Prize, founded in 1984 by novelist Jack Butler and novelist and lawyer Phil McMath, goes to fiction writer Jen Fawkes. Fawkes’ debut short story collection, “Mannequin and Wife,” won two 2020 Foreword INDIE Awards (Gold in Short Stories) and is a finalist for a 2020 Shirley Jackson Award. Catch our conversation with Fawkes about the collection here. Fawkes’ second book, “Tales the Devil Told Me,” will be out in October, and is already the winner of the 2020 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction.
“As a lapsed Arkansan who returned to the state after two decades ‘off’ to find that this wild, wooly place is the only place I want to live, I was thrilled to learn that I won the 2021 Porter Prize,” Fawkes said. “And when I discovered that Dr. Ben Kimpel, for whom the Prize is named, wrote his doctoral dissertation on Herman Melville – one of my most cherished literary forebears – I was positively ecstatic. What an honor to be recognized by my home state, and to join this roster of Arkansas authors whose work I so admire.”
The $2,000 prize has been awarded to 37 poets, novelists, nonfiction writers and playwrights. Fawkes will be honored at an award ceremony with a reception on Thursday, October 7, at the Main Library’s Darragh Center in downtown Little Rock. The event is free and open to the public.