2016 Wabash Prize in Fiction, as selected by Adam Johnson
Winner: Caleb Tankersley, “Dean”
Johnson: Humor and physical desire always triangulate back to sadness in this young husband’s narrative of his attempts to adjust to his wife’s degenerative illness. No digression, however, will assuage the inevitable, and the final image of a man trying to bypass his wife’s wasted body to communicate brain-to-brain is haunting and affecting.
Runner up: Stefani Nellen, “How the Mind Can Exist in a Physical Universe”
Johnson: A quiet story of subtle observation, this tale of a young scientist who falls into the orbit of a famous mathematics duo is a remarkable meditation on the difficulty of expression and the incompleteness of a human alone.
David Crouse, “A Wrong in the World”
Julian Zabalbeascoa, “Igerilaria”
Gwen Cullen, “Infinite Tim”
2016 Wabash Prize in Poetry, as selected by Reginald Dwayne Betts
Winner: Chelsea Dingman, “Hunger [or the last of the daughter-hymns]”
Betts: Every good poem has accoutrements: music and metaphors that dazzle & sometimes, those things become the poem, the rhetoric swallowing whatever the point is. Not here. I read Hunger six times, each time a different level of meaning unfolding, my own new understanding surprising me. People talk of empathy, but the poet that makes you understand is the gift. With each line, Hunger does this & it is beautiful & it is heartbreaking.
Runner-up: John Sibley Williams, “Of Milk and Honey”
Betts: Haunting and mysterious, a matryoshka doll. From diction to direction, Of Milk and Honey challenges readers. & like the matryoshka doll, Of Milk and Honey gives you something more, & something different, just when you think you’ve figured out.
Jessica Guzman Alderman, “Hurricanes Over Sierra Maestra”
T. J. McLemore, “Standards Trio at the Casa di Dante”
Eileen Rush, “Colt”
Cate Lycurgus, “Light/Dark Meat”
Hannah Dow, “The Crowning”