Meron Hadero’s short story collection manuscript Preludes was announced the winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing 2020 on November 18, 2020.
The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing was created in 2016 to honour outstanding debut literary works by first-generation immigrants, awarded for fiction and nonfiction in alternating years. Previous winners of the prize, who receive $10,000 and publication by Restless Books, have been Deepak Unnikrishnan, Priyanka Champaneri, Rajiv Mohabir, and Grace Talusan.
The judges for this cycle of the prize were Dinaw Mengestu, Achy Obejas, and Ilan Stavans and they made the finalists public on September 17. In the running for the prize were Sindya Bhanoo, Meron Hadero, Justin Haynes, Alisa Koyrakh, and Natali Petricic. The winner of the prize was revealed to be Meron Hadero for her short story collection manuscript Preludes.
Judges remarks on the Ethiopian-American’s win were;
With enormous power and wonderful subtlety, Meron Hadero grants us access to the inner worlds of people at moments when everything is at risk. In the stories that make up Preludes, the emotional stakes are high. In “The Suitcase,” on her first-ever visit with family in the city of her birth, a young woman finds herself paralyzed by the pressure of bridging the distance between relatives who left and those who stayed. In “Kind Stranger,” a woman on a brief return visit to Addis Ababa—Hadero’s characters are usually out of place, struggling to move backward or forward to a place that resembles home—is waylaid on the street by a man with a terrible burden to relieve.
Meron Hadero is an Ethiopian-American born in Addis Ababa who came to the U.S. in her childhood via Germany. Her short stories have been shortlisted for the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing and appear in Best American Short Stories, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Zyzzyva, New England Review, The Iowa Review, Addis Ababa Noir, and others. She’s also published in The New York Times Book Review and The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives. Meron has been a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University and a fellow at Yaddo, Ragdale, and MacDowell. An alum of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she worked as a research analyst for the President of Global Development, she holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, a JD from Yale Law School, and a BA from Princeton in history with a certificate in American Studies.
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