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(Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Book Fiction Submission Period Opens for Maurice Prize

Contest aims to encourage unpublished alumni novelists with newly doubled prize

July 14, 2022 Update: Submission deadline extended to July 29.

Attention unpublished Aggie alumni novelists! After a yearlong hiatus, the Maurice Prize for Fiction is back — and bigger than ever before.

The $10,000 award, doubled in size this year, recognizes the best book-length prose fiction written by a UC Davis graduate who has not yet published or been accepted for publication by the contest deadline.

Manuscript submissions are being accepted through July 15 for the 2022 contest. [Update: Submission deadline extended to July 29.]

Established in 2005 by bestselling author John Lescroart in honor of his father, the prize is co-sponsored by the College of Letters and Science. Originally open only to graduates of the UC Davis Creative Writing Program, the prize was expanded in 2019 to all Aggie alumni.

Literary merit will be the overriding criterion in the selection of the winning entry. Works are judged by established authors, selected annually.

In creating the prize, Lescroat said that it took winning a prestigious award early in his career to “believe I could be a writer.” The contest is his way of paying it forward.

He works with the winners in helping them pursue publication of their works. 

Several past winners have had their books published (see list below). This spring, Viking Books released Exactly What You Mean by 2017 winner Ben Hinshaw (M.A., English, ’14). The novel is also a BBC Between the Covers Book Club Pick.

How to enter

To enter, submit a manuscript as a PDF by email to tldawley@ucdavis.edu. Remove the author's name from the PDF — works will be judged anonymously. Include name, mailing address, email address and phone number in the body of the email. There is no fee to enter. The winner will be announced in October.

Past Winners of the Maurice Prize

2021: No prize awarded (program hiatus). 

2020: Laura Marsh (B.S., animal behavior, ’85), SAV•AGE(S).

2019: Peter Shahrokh (M.A. ’75, Ph.D. ’83, English; M.B.A ’99), A Wind Will Come.

2018: No prize awarded (program hiatus). 

2017:  Ben Hinshaw (M.A., English, ’14), Exactly What You Mean, A Novel in Stories, published as Exactly What You Mean (Viking, 2022).

2016:  Megan Cummins (M.A., English, ’11), Beasts.

2015:  Reema Rajbanshi (M.A., English, ’07), Sugar, Smoke, Song.

2014:  Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi (M.A., English, ’11), Poor as You Are, My Heart, Don’t Grieve Here in Earth.

2013:  Naomi Williams (M.A., English, ’07), Landfalls (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2015).

2012:  Cora Stryker (M.A., English, ’07), The Evolution of Flight.

2011:  Maria Kuznetsova (M.A., English, ’10), The Accident.

2010:  Melinda Moustakis (M.A., English, ’06), Bear Down, Bear North (University of Georgia Press, 2011).

2009:  Angie Chau (M.A., English, ’05), A Map Back to You, released as Quiet As They Come (IG Publishing, 2010).

2008:  Melanie Thorne (B.A., ’04, M.A. ’06, English), Hand Me Down (Dutton, 2012).

2007:  Elizabeth Chamberlin (M.A., English, ’06; Ph.D., ecology, ’08), these people, they crawl all over the place.

2006:  Shawna Yang Ryan (M.A., English, ’01), Water Ghosts (Penguin Press, 2009), originally released as Locke 1928 (El Leon Literary Arts).

2005:  Spring Warren (M.A., English, ’02), The Breaks.


— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science

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