The Barry Hannah Prize in Fiction

2022 Theme: Departures & Arrivals

Submissions are open October 10 – November 18. 



We are proud to announce that our 2022 judge is

Deesha Philyaw. Her debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and the 2022-2023 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.


Fee: $5

Prize: $500 and publication in YR:36

Theme: Departures & Arrivals

For this year’s contest, we seek experimental fiction — in both content and/or form — that pushes past the obvious boundaries of the contest theme, stories that force readers to confront something uncomfortable, unusual, or just plain strange.


Submit here.



About the Prize

Beloved teacher and former director of the University of Mississippi MFA program, Barry Hannah was born in Meridian, Mississippi. He joined the UM faculty in 1982, and served as MFA director from 2001 until his death in 2010. Author of many works, including National Book Award finalist Geronimo Rex, the critically acclaimed collection Airships, and Pulitzer Prize finalist High Lonesome, Hannah received numerous awards during his career including The William Faulkner Prize and the Robert Penn Warren Lifetime Achievement Award. Known for his sharp use of language and electric energy, Hannah’s writing blends traditional genre conventions and pushes the limits of the Southern literary tradition. Named in memoriam, the Barry Hannah Prize in Fiction celebrates writing that captures the strange, surreal, absurd, and magical.


Congratulations to the 2021 contest winners and finalists!
Theme: Reckonings

Winner: “20/20” by Rucy Cui

Raven Leilani selected “20/20” by Rucy Cui as the winner of the 2021 Barry Hannah Prize in Fiction. Of the story, Leilani writes: “The author writes with enormous control and feeling about the nature of habit and obfuscation. The language is precise and surprising, attuned to the emotional and scientific terms of art around containment and loss of control. An absolute joy to read.”


2020 contest winners and finalists
Theme: Interruptions

Winner: “There’s a Magic to It” by John Herring

Maurice Carlos Ruffin chose “There’s a Magic to It” by John Herring as the winning submission. Ruffin wrote: “There is a magic to the astounding use of language that I’ve never seen before. It encompasses the protagonist’s feeling of alienation, dislocation, and interruption without occurring meaning. Farrah is complex, alive, impossible to forget.”


2019 contest winners and finalists
Theme: Food

Winner: “Untitled” by Jasmine Settles

Kiese Laymon chose “Untitled” by Jasmine Settles as the winning submission. Laymon wrote: “‘Untitled’” is dripping with evocative deeply southern sincerity. The piece knows and wonders about food, knows and wonders about culture, and most importantly it lingers and wanders through our journeys to liberation. It’s a we piece, shrouded in “I” clothes. It made me want to read, write, eat and wail.”




2018 contest winner and Finalists:
Theme: The United States South

Winner: “A Serious Job” by Joshua Gray

Garth Greenwell chose “A Serious Job” by Joshua Gray as the winning submission. Greenwell wrote: “This beautiful story tackles with uncommon sensitivity some of the most difficult subjects: family, sacrifice, the decline of a beloved body, our absolute vulnerability to one another. It’s finely wrought, unflinching, finally heartbreaking.”


“Aphrodite Reclining” by Ramona Reeves



“Morel” by Jennifer Marie Donahue

“Ghost Signs” by Sylvia Fox

“The Mouth in the Yard” by Riley Kross

“Slopes” by Winona Leon

“Toward a Theory of Alternative Lifestyles” by Theodore McCombs


2017 contest winner and Finalists:
Theme: Fairy tale/myth/ folklore


Catherine Lacey chose “Junkland.” by K.A. Rees as the winning submission. Lacey wrote: “Junkland. is a piercing meditation on wreckage and ruin of all sorts— human wastefulness, bodily injury, the oppressive weight of memory. Yet its language is nimble, agile, unexpected. At the heart of this story there is a deep, alluring tension— heavy and ebullient, clear and mysterious, tender and sharp.”



“Now You’ll Have Something to Cry About” by C.G. Thompson

“Toy Whistle” by Cezarija Abartis


“In Floating Fields” by Susan DeFreitas
“Lullaby (Dark Night)” by Jeanne Genis
“Time and Oranges” by Molly Gutman
“Ladies’ Night at the Arctic Club” by Thomas Israel Hopkins
“The Laughing Owl” by Kaely Horton
“Meat Shack” by Kate Jayroe
“Holy Ground” by Joshua Storrs