The winning book is chosen for the quality of its prose, its originality, its sense of place and period, and the authenticity and appeal of its characters. The book should be set in one of the following Southern states:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
It must be published in the year designated. For example, the book that received the award in October, 2017—Kim Wright’s Last Ride to Graceland—was published in 2016. Books published in 2019 are being considered for the prize now.
Short stories and linked short stories are not eligible. The winning book must be a classic novel, of at least 50,000 words. Non-fictional references and passages are acceptable only if in moderation.
The recipient of the Willie Morris Award receives $10,000.00, and an expense paid trip to Oxford, MS. The author must come to Oxford to receive the award, attend a luncheon with the contest judges and a reception in his/her honor. At the reception copies of the book are given to those attending, and the author is available to sign them. On that same evening, the author makes a few remarks about the book. Last year, more than 100 invited guests attended the reception; and nearly 100 books were given away.
The winning book and author are announced in literary journals, such as Publisher’s Weekly, Oxford American and Poets & Writers and assorted regional magazines. This same announcement solicits books from publishers and booksellers for current year candidates. The deadline for 2019 books is Friday, May 1, 2020.
The submission window for the 2019 award is closed. We look forward to announcing the winner in August 2020.