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Congratulations to Joseph Earl Thomas, the 2020 winner of The Chautauqua Janus Prize!
Chautauqua Institution has announced “Reality Marble” by Joseph Earl Thomas as the 2020 winner of the Chautauqua Janus Prize.
As the author selected from 16 finalists by judge Hilary Plum, Thomas receives $5,000 and will present a public lecture and reading at a celebratory event at a date to be determined as part of Chautauqua Institution’s online assembly season this summer. His writing will also appear in a future issue of the literary journal Chautauqua.
Hailing from Philadelphia, Thomas is a doctoral student in English at the University of Pennsylvania whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Offing, Gulf Coast and The Kenyon Review. Being an emerging writer, Thomas said, means “applying and submitting to hundreds of places where you feel the work might fit or be in conversation with other art you love and admire,” and he was surprised and honored for his work to be selected for the Janus Prize, “which thinks so deliberately about aesthetics and the social world simultaneously.”
Exploring loneliness, race, masculinity, violence and a search for happiness, “Reality Marble” is a memoir, drawing themes and its title from the natural world, and from the genres of fantasy and science fiction.
First awarded in 2018, the Chautauqua Janus Prize celebrates one emerging writer’s single work of short fiction or nonfiction for daring formal and aesthetic innovations that upset and reorder literary conventions, historical narratives and readers’ imaginations. Named for Janus, the Roman god who looks to both the past and the future, the prize honors writing with a command of craft that renovates our understandings of both. The prize is funded by a generous donation from Barbara and Twig Branch.