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Judge Danielle Evans Selects the Winner of The Georgia Review Prose Prize

The Georgia Review congratulates Gloria Mwaniga Odary, who was selected by judge Danielle Evans as the winner of the Georgia Review Prose Prize, and Susan Li, who was chosen as runner-up. Oday will receive $1,500 for her story “Henna is Just Roots.” Li will receive $600 for her essay “Exterminations.”

Of Odary’s fiction, Evans wrote:

“‘Henna is Just Roots’ is gorgeous and haunting work, both a vibrant, giddy encapsulation of girlhood and childhood friendship and an account of atrocity and the trauma it leaves in its wake. The author’s accomplished sense of what to leave off of the page underscores what has been lost and how difficult it is to look directly at it, giving its characters what grace it can without losing sight of the weight of its subject matter.”

Gloria Mwaniga Odary is a writer and educator from Kenya currently pursuing an MFA in  creative writing at the University of Memphis. Her writing has won the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the African Land Policy Centre Story Prize, and she was longlisted for the 2024 Isele Nonfiction Prize and the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Mukana Press, Isele Magazine, The Johannesburg Review of Books, The White Review, The Writivism Anthology, and elsewhere. She has published book reviews and author interviews in The East African and Daily Nation newspapers. Mwaniga has also written children’s books, school textbooks, and business feature stories. Her novel-in-progress is an adventure tale that follows a young female drifter growing up in small towns across Kenya.

Evans’s choice for the top nonfiction entry and the runner-up for the Georgia Review Prose Prize is Susan Li’s “Exterminations.” As Evans writes:

“‘Exterminations’ is beautifully rendered and brilliantly structured. With glittering clarity, the writer captures multiple forms of grief: the grief of emerging into an understanding of what the world is capable of, the grief of watching an addiction, the grief of losing a brother, the complicated grief that comes with freedom from particular familial roles or expectations. The ants that open and close the piece create a resonance and underscore the slippery sense of time that brings both reader and writer to a place simultaneously familiar and strange.”

Susan Li is a Chinese American writer with ancestral roots in Toisan. “Exterminations” is her first publication. She lives in New York City.

We would like to thank everyone who submitted to this year’s contest; the complete list of finalists can be found below. More information about the contest is available here. We look forward to reading work from both previous and first-time entrants when the next Georgia Review Prose Prize opens again on November 1, 2024.


The Georgia Review Prose Prize Winner and Finalists

Winner: “Henna Is Just Roots” by Gloria Mwaniga Odary

Runner-up: “Exterminations” by Susan Li

Finalists:   “Survival Meal: A One Woman Show” by Azaria Brown

“What Must Be Will Be” by Olivia Cheng

“Pangea Ultima” by Monica Judge

“Let Air Remain Air” by Lilly Nguyen

“Burning Ring” by Debra Nystrom

“Counterparts” by Randolph Thomas

“Roleplay” by Qianze Zhang

“The Other Boys” by EY Zhao