21st Century Essays
Edited by David Lazar and Patrick Madden



Recent 21st Century Essays Titles:

book cover

A Mother's Tale

Phillip Lopate

Pub date: January 12, 2017
196 pp. 6 x 9
$24.95 Hardcover

book cover

Don't Come Back

Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas

Pub date: January 13, 2017
277 pp. 6 x 9
38 b&w photographs
$22.95 Paperback


The Gournay Prize

The 21st Century Essays series is pleased to announce The Gournay Prize, which will select one book length collection of essays each year for publication by The Ohio State University Press and a cash prize of $1000. Submission window: January 25, 2017 – March 15, 2017.

    • The award is open to all writers for first books of essays. Writers may have published books previously in other genres.
    • The award is open to writers in English, whether or not they are citizens of the United States. Translations are not eligible.
    • Eligible submissions may be no fewer than 25,000 words and no longer than 95,000 words. Prior publication of your manuscript as a whole in any format (including electronic or self-published) makes it ineligible. Individual essays that have been previously published may be included in the manuscript. Each submission must include a list of acknowledgments of previously published work (title and magazine/journal/anthology) included in the manuscript.
    • Manuscripts may also be under consideration by other publishers, but if a manuscript is accepted for publication elsewhere, the submission should be promptly withdrawn from consideration.
    • Authors may submit more than one manuscript to the competition as long as one manuscript or a portion thereof does not duplicate material submitted in another manuscript. An entry fee must be paid for each submission.
    • Manuscripts must be received between January 25, 2017 – March 15, 2017 via email at gournay@osupress.org.
    • A $28 entry fee must be received for each submitted manuscript.
    • Fees must be postmarked by March 15, 2017, in order for the submission to be valid. Submission fees may be submitted via check or credit card, in one of two ways:
        1. Mailed (download form for instructions)
        2. Credit card information can be called in to the Press at the following number: 614-292-3692
    • No hard copy manuscript submissions will be considered.

Contact Information — Please note that email is preferred for a faster response.
Email: gournay@osupress.org
Phone: 614-292-8256


A new series from The Ohio State University Press, 21st Century Essays will be a vehicle to discover, publish, and promote some of the most daring, ingenious, and artistic new nonfiction. This is the first and only major series that announces its focus on the essay, a genre whose plasticity, timelessness, popularity, and centrality to nonfiction writing will make it instantly important in the field of nonfiction literature, with books that use words as artistic medium, appealing to the literary, academic, and trade audiences. In addition to publishing the most interesting and innovative books of essays by American writers, the series will publish extraordinary international essayists and reprint works by neglected or forgotten essayists, voices that deserve to be heard, revived, and reprised. Beginning in its second year, the series will hold an open contest for a book prize, to be named The Gournay Prize.

21st Century Essays will be a major addition to the possibilities of contemporary literary nonfiction, focusing on that central, frequently chimerical, and invariably supple form: The Essay.

For more information about the series or submitting a proposal contact: Kristen Elias Rowley, OSU Press Editor-in-Chief. Submissions to the series will be accepted March 1 - April 30. (Download series flyer)


About the Series Editors

photograh of David Lazar

David Lazar’s books include the forthcoming essays collections I’ll Be Your Mirror: Essays and Aphorisms and On Character, from the University of Nebraska Press. Other books include: essay collections Occasional Desire and The Body of Brooklyn; the prose poetry collections Powder Town and Who’s Afraid of Helen of Troy; the nonfiction anthologies After Montaigne, Truth in Nonfiction, and Essaying the Essay, and the interview collections Michael Powell: Interviews and Conversations with M.F.K. Fisher. His digital anthology for Essay Press, Considering Garlands, was the first anthology on anthologies. Lazar founded the Ph.D. Program in nonfiction writing at Ohio University and directed the creation of the MFA program in nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches. He is also a faculty mentor at the Mile High MFA program at Regis University. He has been awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant, and he was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction for 2015–2016. He is the founding editor of Hotel Amerika, now in its fifteenth year.

Patrick Madden Photograph

Patrick Madden is the author of two books of essays, Sublime Physick and Quotidiana (ForeWord magazine and Association for Mormon Letters awards winner and finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award); coeditor of After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays; and co-translator of the Selected Poems of Eduardo Milán. His essays have appeared in Fourth Genre, Hotel Amerika, the Iowa Review, the Normal School, Portland Magazine, River Teeth, and other journals, as well as in the Best Creative Nonfiction and Best American Spiritual Writing. A two-time Fulbright fellow to Uruguay, he teaches at Brigham Young University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, and he curates the online anthology and essay resource at www.quotidiana.org.


Editorial Advisory Board

Robert Atwan, the series editor of The Best American Essays and numerous other anthologies, has published essays, criticism, humor, and reviews in The New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, the Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, and the Los Angeles Times.

Mary Cappello, a professor at the University of Rhode Island and a Guggenheim Berlin Prize fellow, is the author of Swallow, Called Back, Awkward: A Detour, and Night Bloom, as well as the forthcoming Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack.

John D’Agata is the author of Halls of Fame, About a Mountain, and The Lifespan of a Fact, and editor of the 3-volume series A New History of the Essay, which includes The Next American Essay, The Making of the American Essay, and The Lost Origins of the Essay.

Wayne Koestenbaum, Distinguished Professor at CUNY, has published sixteen books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, including My 1980s & Other Essays, Hotel Theory, Humiliation, The Anatomy of Harpo Marx, Jackie Under My Skin, and The Queen’s Throat (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist).

Phillip Lopate, editor of The Art of the Personal Essay, has written four essay collections: Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, Portrait of My Body, and Portrait Inside My Head along with many other books, including the craft book To Show and Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction.

Maggie Nelson, director of the CalArts MFA program, is the author of nine books of poetry and prose; her nonfiction titles include The New York Times best seller The Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, The Red Parts: A Memoir, and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions.

Lia Purpura, a Guggenheim, Fulbright, and NEA fellow, is the author of eight collections of essays, poems, and translations, including Rough Likeness, a collection of essays, and On Looking, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Claudia Rankine, the Aerol Arnold Chair in the USC English Department and a Lannan and NEA fellow, is the author of five collections of poetry, including Don’t Let Me Be Loney and Citizen: An American Lyric, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and finalist for the National Book Award.

David Shields is the author of twenty books, most recently, War is Beautiful, Other People, How Literature Saved My Life, Reality Hunger (named a best book of 2010 by thirty publications). The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead, and Black Planet (National Book Critics Circle Award finalist).