2017 Finalist Judges

Robin Hemley
ROBIN HEMLEY is the author of twelve books of nonfiction and fiction, and has won numerous awards for his writing, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes in both fiction and nonfiction, The Independent Press Book Award, an Editors Choice Award from The American Library Association, State Arts Council grants from Washington, North Carolina, and Illinois, The Ohioana Library Association Award, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The MacDowell Colony, and many others. His work has been published in the U.S. Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, the Philippines, Singapore, and elsewhere.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, he returned to Iowa to direct the Nonfiction Writing Program for nine years before moving to Singapore to direct the writing program at Yale-NUS College and also serve as Writer-in-Residence there. He is also a Visiting Professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia and Professor Emeritus at The University of Iowa.


Gish Jen
GISH JEN, the author of six previous books, has published short work in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and dozens of other periodicals and anthologies. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories four times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century. Nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, her work was featured in a PBS American Masters’ special on the American novel, and is widely taught.

Jen is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and numerous other awards. An American Academy of Arts and Letters jury comprised of John Updike, Cynthia Ozick, Don DeLillo, and Joyce Carol Oates granted her a five-year Mildred and Harold Strauss Living award; Jen delivered the William E. Massey, Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University in 2012. Her most recent book is The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap.


Alan Taylor
ALAN TAYLOR is an award-winning author and teacher. He taught in the history department at Boston University from 1987 to 1994. Since 1994, he has been a professor at the University of California at Davis. In 2002 he won the University of California at Davis Award for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement and the Phi Beta Kappa, Northern California Association, Teaching Excellence Award.

Taylor has published eight books. William Cooper’s Town won the Pulitzer Prize for American history in addition to the Bancroft and Beveridge prizes. The Internal Enemy won the Pulitzer Prize for American history and the Merle Curti Prize for Social History (OAH). American Colonies won the 2001 Gold Medal for Non-Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. The Divided Ground won the 2007 Society for Historians of the Early Republic book prize and the 2004-7 Society of the Cincinnati triennial book prize. The Civil War of 1812 won the Empire State History Prize and was a finalist for the George Washington Prize.


Helen Thorpe
HELEN THORPE Helen Thorpe is an award-winning journalist who lives in Denver, Colorado. Her first book, Just Like Us: The True Story Of Four Mexican Girls Coming Of Age In America, was published in 2009. It won the Colorado Book Award and was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post.

Her second book, Soldier Girls: The Battles Of Three Women At Home And At War, was published in 2014. TIME named it the number one nonfiction book of the year, and The New York Times said: “Through minute, almost claustrophobic, detail — using military and medical records, as well as therapists’ notes and personal correspondence — Thorpe achieves a staggering intimacy with her subjects.”

Her forthcoming book, The Newcomers, is about refugee resettlement. It celebrates the work of a high school English Language Acquisition teacher named Eddie Williams, whose classroom mirrors the global refugee crisis. The book is due out November 2017.



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