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UW Professor Nominated for National Book Award for Fiction

September 26, 2016
man sitting outdoors in a chair
Brad Watson

Brad Watson, University of Wyoming Creative Writing Program associate professor, is a nominee for the prestigious National Book Award.

Watson’s newest novel, “Miss Jane,” is among 10 nominees for the fiction prize. Inspired by the story of his own great-aunt, Watson explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early 20th century Mississippi with a genital birth defect. Her irrepressible vitality and generous spirit give her the strength to live her life as she pleases in spite of the limitations that others, and her own body, would place on her.

Watson’s first novel, “The Heaven of Mercury,” was a finalist for the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction and received the Southern Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction. He has written two collections of short stories -- “Last Days of the Dog-Men,” which received the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997, and “Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives,” which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 2011. Additionally, he won an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2013.

Originally from Mississippi, Watson joined the UW faculty in 2005. He previously taught at the University of Alabama, Harvard University, the University of California-Irvine and the University of Mississippi. He has held fellowships through the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

UW Creative Writing Program Director Jeff Lockwood calls Watson “a source of institutional pride and a phenomenal mentor of students.”

“Brad Watson goes a long way to explaining why our MFA program in creative writing draws 300 applications each year for nine positions -- and why creative writing is one of the largest undergraduate minors at UW,” Lockwood says. “The opportunity for students to learn from a writer of this caliber is truly astounding.”

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation. Awards are presented to writers in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature. The finalists for this year’s awards will be announced Oct. 13, and the winners in each category will be named Nov. 16.

To view a list of this year’s nominees, go to

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