Photo of women in blue jacket long blond hair in front of body of water and trees in the distance
Jessica Guerrieri (B.A., English, '07) is winner of the 2023 Maurice Prize, given to a UC Davis alumni writer who has not yet had a novel published. (Courtesy of Jessica Guerrieri)

Maurice Prize Winner’s Novel Produced During Pandemic

Jessica Guerrieri (B.A., English, ’07) is this year’s winner of the Maurice Prize for Fiction. The prize, which includes a $10,000 award, is given to a UC Davis graduate who has not yet published a novel.

Guerrieri wrote the novel she submitted, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, during the COVID pandemic lockdown. The book chronicles the highs and lows of a large family living in Half Moon Bay, California. It is about coming to terms with family, addiction, recovery, children and, not the least, motherhood.

“I wanted to write a fictionalized account based on my own personal struggle with alcoholism and eventual recovery,” Guerrieri said.

“The novel is a peek behind the curtain into modern-day ‘mommy wine culture’ conversations we're having surrounding motherhood and alcohol individually,” she said. I hope it’s a safe doorway for dialogue to anyone examining their own relationship between the two.”

Originally from Belmont, California, Guerrieri came to UC Davis to study and stayed. She fell in love with the Department of English and with the town of Davis. She, her husband and three daughters are part of a large extended family in Davis.

She and a group of friends set goals for how to be productive during lockdown, meeting in the local Target parking lot or parks to see how everyone was progressing. Guerrieri has written extensively for a wide variety of publications, often about motherhood and sobriety.

The Maurice Prize was established in 2005 by bestselling author and Davis resident John Lescroart and named in honor of his father. The prize is co-sponsored by the College of Letters and Science at UC Davis. Submissions are judged by a group of established authors. Learn more about the award and past winners.

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