The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence is the biggest literary award for African-American writers and this year novelist Attica Locke was honored with the award.
The award, which is administered by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, comes with a $10,000 prize, reports The Times-Picaynne. The annual award is named after one of Louisiana’s most prominent authors. Locke took home the prestigious award for her second novel, The Cutting Season, which was published by Dennis Lehane Books.
The Cutting Season tells the story of a fictional 2009 murder on a Louisiana sugar plantation. The crime exposes secrets dating to the Civil War. As the tale unravels, Locke uses it to examine larger issues of race and class.
A native of Houston who resides in Los Angeles, Locke is the seventh writer to win the Gaines award. Other honorees include Dinaw Mengestu, Victor Lavalle, Stephanie Powell Watts, Jeffery Renard Allen, Ravi Howard and Bogalusa native Olympia Vernon.
Locke’s first novel, Black Water Rising, was shortlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize, nominated for a 2010 Edgar award, nominated for a 2010 NAACP Image Award and a finalist for a 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
Attica, a graduate of Northwestern University, has also spent several years working as a screenwriter, writing movie and television scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, HBO, and Dreamworks.
Locke will receive the Gaines Award on Jan. 23 at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge.