C.E. Morgan, Hilton Als & Stanley Crouch Among Winners of $150K Windham-Campbell Prize

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Yale University has announced the winners of the 2016 Windham-Campbell Prizes.

The recipients of this year’s prize in fiction are British author Tessa Hadley, two-time Orange Prize finalist and author of Clever Girl and The Past; Southern writer C.E. Morgan, author of All the Living and The Sport of Kings, and Indian writer and poet Jerry Pinto, author of Em and the Big Hoom.

The winners for drama are Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Hannah Moscovitch, and Abbie Spallen. Hilton Als, Stanley Crouch, and Helen Garner won the prize for non-fiction.

The Windham-Campbell Prize, which began in 2013, is one of the most lucrative literary awards in the world. Each of the nine writers will receive $150,000 from the estate of writer Donald Windham.

The prize is judged anonymously and doesn’t accept nominations, so the winners weren’t aware that they were being considered until they received a phone call from Michael Kelleher, the program’s director.

As Kelleher posted on Twitter: “Best part of my job @WindhamCampbell is calling 9 unsuspecting writers out of the blue [with] news they’ve won $150,000. I feel like [Ed] McMahon.”

The prize came so out-of-the-blue that one of the winners almost missed it all together. When Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch heard the voicemail letting her know she’d won, she thought it was a scam. “I thought it was ‘Congratulations, you’ve won a cruise to Florida if you pay $200,’” she told the Globe and Mail. “I nearly didn’t listen to the actual voicemail.”

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