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The L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize

In honor of L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark, who devoted their lives to literature and generously supported the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Texas State University, Texas State University’s English Department has established the $25,000 Clark Fiction Prize. The prize will be awarded annually to recognize an exceptional recently-published book-length work of fiction.

The Clarks

L.D. Clark (1922-2014) spent a long career as a professor of English at the University of Arizona, producing scholarship on D.H. Lawrence. He authored seven novels, three volumes of short fiction, and several works of nonfiction. His wife, LaVerne Harrell Clark (1929-2008), was a novelist, folklorist, and photographer. Her first book, They Sang for Horses, a study of Navajo and Apache horse mythology, won the University of Chicago Folklore Prize and has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as a classic in Native American studies. The book is currently in print from the University of Colorado Press. A later book, Keepers of the Earth, won the Best First Novel award from Western Writers of America. Dr. and Mrs. Clark were both members of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Our Process

The Clark Prize Committee solicits nominations from distinguished writers around the country. No applications or unsolicited nominations for the award are accepted.

2022 Prize Winner

Percival Everett's novel, The Trees, has won the 2022 L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize. The prize of $25,000 is one of the largest literary awards in the United States. 

A Photo of Percival EverettEstablished at Texas State University in 2016 and administered by the Department of English, the prize is designed to recognize an exceptional, recently-published book-length work of fiction in celebration of the Clarks’ lifelong contributions to, and love for, literature and the arts. 

Everett and his work will be celebrated at an event at Texas State on April 6. The 2022 Clark Prize shortlist included the novels Dear Miss Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrell, Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman, and The Five Wounds by Kristin Valdez Quade. Nominations were solicited from 16 prominent writers on the condition of anonymity, and the permanent fiction faculty of the Texas State M.F.A. Program narrowed those nominations down to the shortlist.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine is the nationally bestselling author of the novel Woman of Light (One World, 2022) and the widely acclaimed short story collection Sabrina & Corina (One World, 2019). Her work has been nominated for the National Book Award, the PEN/Bingham Prize, the Clark Prize, the Story Prize, the Saroyan International Prize, and the Joyce Carol Oates Prize. Fajardo-Anstine is the winner of a 2020 American Book Award and is the 2021 recipient of the Addison M. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is the 2022 - 2024 Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University.

The Trees is a page-turner that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till.

The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. Something truly strange is afoot. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence, and does so in fast-paced style that ensures the reader can’t look away. The Trees is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance from an author with his finger on America’s pulse.

Percival Everett is the author of fifteen novels, among them The Water Cure, Erasure, and Glyph. He is the author of the poetry collection Abstraktion und Einfühlung, the coauthor of A History of the African-American People (Proposed) by Strom Thurmond, as told to Percival Everett & James Kincaid (A Novel), and provided annotations for Akashic’s publication of The Jefferson Bible. He is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.

2022 Shortlist

Carolyn FerrellDear Miss Metropolitan

Alexandra Kleeman, Something New Under the Sun

Kristin Valdez Quade, The Five Wounds

2022 Longlist

Melissa Broder, Milk Fed

Yoon Choi, Skinship 

Mariana Enriquez, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed

Percival Everett, The Trees

Carolyn Ferrell, Dear Miss Metropolitan

Kaitlyn Greenidge, Libertie

Katie Kitamura, Intimacies

Alexandra Kleeman, Something New Under the Sun

Laura Taylor Namey, When We Were Them

Kristin Valdez Quade, The Five Wounds

Asali Solomon, The Days of Afrekete

Brandon Taylor, Filthy Animals