WINSTON-SALEM—Nina Roselle has won this year’s Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize for her entry “Emma’s Hands.”
Roselle will receive a $1,000 prize, and The Carolina Quarterly will consider “Emma’s Hands” for publication.
Final judge Gabriel Bump selected Roselle’s story from among ten finalists.
In selecting “Emma’s Hands,” Bump said, “There’s a profound slickness at work here. We think this a story about furniture and manual labor. The author, however, packs a heartfelt lifetime into these pages. We don’t see it coming. We are grateful.”
Roselle lives in a small town outside of Raleigh. She is a graduate of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. She has a special fondness for flash fiction, which she says “can pack so much story with few words.”
“Left Behind” by Brenda C. Wilson received Honorable Mention. Bump said, “A beautiful story about abandonment and hope. The sentences are alive with touch, smells, love, and pain. A wonderful experience.”
Wilson has an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte. Her short stories have been published in The Maryland Review and Boundoff. She was a finalist in the Reynolds Price Short Fiction Contest and also Ebony Magazine’s Gertrude Johnson Williams Literary Contest. Her novel A Cakewalk to Memphis was a quarterfinalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, and her latest novel, Red Door Scriptures, will be published in Summer 2023. She is a current member of Poets & Writers’ Get the Word Out Debut Fiction Cohort.
The Jacobs/Jones contest, sponsored by the NCWN, is open to any African-American writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina. Entries may be fiction or creative nonfiction, but must not have been published before (including on any website, blog, or social media), and must be no more than 3,000 words.
Gabriel Bump grew up in South Shore, Chicago. He received his MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His debut novel, Everywhere You Don’t Belong, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2020 and has won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Fiction, the Heartland Booksellers Award for Fiction, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s First Novelist Award. Bump teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize honors the nineteenth-century writers Harriet Jacobs and Thomas H. Jones. Jacobs was born in 1813 near Edenton, escaping to Philadelphia in 1842, after hiding for seven years in a crawl space above her grandmother’s ceiling. She published her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, under a pseudonym in 1861. Jacobs died in 1897 and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1997.
Jones was born into slavery near Wilmington in 1806. Able to purchase the freedom of his wife and all but one of his children, he followed them north in 1849 by stowing away on a brig to New York. In the northeast and in Canada, he spoke as a preacher and abolitionist, writing his memoir, The Experience of Thomas Jones, in 1854, as a way to raise funds to buy his eldest child’s freedom.
This Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize was initiated by Cedric Brown, a Winston-Salem native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“The literary award was borne out of my frustration with being unable to readily find much fiction or creative nonfiction that conveys the rich and varied existence of Black North Carolinians,” Brown said. “I wanted to incentivize the development of written works while also encouraging Black writers to capture our lives through storytelling.”
The non-profit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.