Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ernest Gaines Award ceremony to be Jan. 21

Ceremonies for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s ninth annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge. This year’s recipient is T. Geronimo Johnson, author of “Welcome to Braggsville.” You can read the Louisiana Book News review of the book here.
Doors open at 6 p.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at rsvp@braf.org.
Johnson will read from his winning selection, “Welcome to Braggsville,” a socially provocative and dark comedic novel about four University of California, Berkeley students who stage a protest during a Civil War reenactment in rural Georgia.
            A New Orleans native, Johnson lives in Berkeley and serves as visiting professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he earned a master’s degree in fine arts. His first novel, “Hold it ’til it Hurts,” was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.
            The Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed $10,000 annual prize created by Baton Rouge Area Foundation donors to recognize outstanding work from rising African-American fiction writers while honoring Ernest Gaines’ contribution to the literary world. A native of Louisiana’s Pointe Coupee Parish, Gaines’ critically acclaimed novel “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” was adapted into a made-for-TV movie that won nine Emmy awards. His novel “A Lesson Before Dying” published in 1993, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Gaines is a 2013 recipient of the National Medal of Arts, a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and a member of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.