2016 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize Winner Announced

Meet 2016 Winner YZ Chin!

In 1970 Louise Meriwether published Daddy Was a Number Runner, her novel of life during the post–Harlem Renaissance era. Nearly fifty years later it is considered a classic. Following Paule Marshall’s 1959 Brown Girl, Brownstones, Meriwether’s novel is one of the first contemporary American novels featuring a young black girl as the protagonist. The book inspired the careers of writers such as Jacqueline Woodson and Bridgett M. Davis, among many others.

In honor of Louise Meriwether and her contribution to the literary canon, the Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine have established an eponymous prize. Each year, we seek the best debut work by women and nonbinary writers of color to continue Meriwether’s legacy.

The 2016 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize winner is YZ Chin, author of Though I Get Home (forthcoming spring 2018). Chin was born and raised in Taiping, Malaysia, and lives in New York. She works as a software engineer by day, and writes by night.

As Chin writes in her author statement:

If you peruse the news for recent reports on Malaysia, you will get a sense of the topics I am compelled to write about: rampant corruption, detentions without trial, and the crackdown on dissent and artistic freedom.

These form the backdrop of my manuscript,
THOUGH I GET HOME. In the title story, Isabella Sin, a young Malaysian, goes from ordinary small-town girl to prisoner of conscience in the country's most notorious detention camp, where inmates never know if they will ever leave. 

Other stories in the collection feature myriad characters fighting fate in their own way: An immigrant to Malaya improvises for survival; a victim of dictatorship takes more control over her destiny; a religious man doggedly performs good deeds in order to keep his personal demons at bay, but in vain. The stories all delve into personal motivations amid changing and challenging circumstances. 

You can meet YZ on March 28 at the launch celebration, hosted at Pen + Brush. More details coming soon!

For more information on applying to the award, click here.

To download the press release in full, click here.

Lucia Brown