Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah was announced as one of the two winners of the William Saroyan International Prize 2020 on December 9, 2020.

The William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, given by Stanford Libraries in partnership with the William Saroyan Foundation, the award recognizes newly published works of fiction and nonfiction with a $5,000 award for the winner in each category. The prize is designed to encourage new or emerging writers and honour the Saroyan literary legacy of originality, vitality and stylistic innovation.

“The goal of the Saroyan Prize is to raise awareness of the work of our award recipients as well as the wonderfully talented authors who make up our shortlist,” said Mimi Calter, deputy university librarian at Stanford. “I am always pleased to review the submissions and this year I think the spirit of William Saroyan’s legacy is clearly reflected in our winners and finalists.”

The 2020 judging panel for fiction consisted of award-winning authors Sumbul Ali-Karamali, Elizabeth McKenzie, and Patrick Hunt. This panel announced the shortlist for the award on June 1.

The winner for the fiction award was announced to be Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah for his short story collection Friday Black which confronts issues of race and social injustice head-on. Adjei-Brenyah’s explosive voice is timely as the United States wrestles with its history. His talent is made apparent almost immediately as his writings intentionally teeter between carnage and compassion leaving readers to process a series of intense emotions.

The Saroyan Prize in nonfiction went to Jennifer Croft.