The Journal Non/Fiction Prize

New and forthcoming Titles:

The Journal, the literary magazine of The Ohio State University MFA Program in Creative Writing, selects one booklength collection of short prose each year for publication by Mad Creek Books. The prize carries a cash award of $1500 and publication by The Ohio State University Press Mad Creek Books Imprint under its standard contract.

The winning entry will be chosen by Michelle Herman. Michelle Herman is the author of three collections of personal essays, a collection of stories and novellas, and four novels, including her newest, Close-Up. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Sun, American Scholar, O, the Oprah Magazine, Ploughshares, Creative Nonfiction, Conjunctions, The Southern Review, and many other journals, and she writes a weekly column for Slate. A co-founder of the MFA program at Ohio State, where she has taught since 1988, she also founded and directs a graduate interdisciplinary program across the arts at OSU.

Submission window: February 1st–March 11th

  • The award is open to writers of fiction and creative nonfiction, whether or not they have previously published a book.
  • The award is open to writers in English, whether or not they are citizens of the United States. Translations are not eligible.
  • The Ohio State University employees, former employees, current OSU MFA students, and those who have been OSU MFA students within the last ten years are not eligible for the award.
  • Eligible submissions include an unpublished manuscript of short stories or essays; two or more novellas or novella-length essays; a combination of one or more novellas/novella-length essays and short stories/essays; a combination of stories and essays. Novellas or novella-length nonfiction must be part of a larger collection. Manuscripts may be no fewer than 150 and no more than 350 typed double-spaced pages, 12-point font. Prior publication of your manuscript as a whole in any format (including electronic or self-published) makes it ineligible. Individual stories or 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.
  • All submissions must be accompanied by a $23 entry fee, or $11.50 for BIPOC writers.
  • All manuscripts will be judged anonymously. The author's name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript. All identifying information will be submitted through the online submission manager only.
  • 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 and a separate entry fee is paid.
  • Manuscripts must be received between February 1st and March 11thst via our online submission manager:
  • No hard-copy manuscript submissions will be considered.

Contact Information:


The Journal Non/Fiction Prize Winners

2023 Miles Harvey The Registry of Forgotten Objects: Stories
2022 Mary Quade Zoo World: Essays
2021 Rebecca Bernard Our Sister Who Will Not Die: Stories
2020 Becky Hagenston The Age of Discovery and Other Stories
2019 Jill Sisson Quinn Sign Here If You Exist and Other Essays
2018 Katherine Zlabek When: Stories
2017 Anthony Moll Out of Step: A Memoir
2016 Kathryn Nuernberger Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past
2015 Julie Hensley Landfall: A Ring of Stories
2013 Elizabeth Eslami Hibernate
2012 Cary Holladay The Deer in the Mirror
2011 Geoff Wyss How
2010 Diane Simmons Little America
2009 Matt Debenham The Book of Right and Wrong
2008 Paul Eggers The Departure Lounge
2007 Ric Jahna True Kin
2006 Morgan McDermott Owner’s Manual
2005 J. David Stevens Mexico Is Missing: And Other Stories
2004 Scott Kaukonen Ordination
2003 Gerald Shapiro Little Men: Novellas and Stories
2002 Trudy Lewis The Bones of Garbo
2001 William J. Cobb The White Tattoo
2000 Wendy Rawlings Come Back Irish
1999 Molly Best Tinsley Throwing Knives
1998 Steven Polansky Dating Miss Universe
1997 John Clayton Radiance: Ten Stories

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