2020 Prize Judges


John Gregory Brown

Born and raised in New Orleans, John Gregory Brown is the author of the novels Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery; The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur; Audubon’s Watch; and A Thousand Miles from Nowhere. His honors include a Lyndhurst Prize, the Lillian Smith Award, the John Steinbeck Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award, and the Library of Virginia Book Award. His visual art has been displayed in individual and group exhibitions and has appeared online in print in Hayden’s Ferry Review, the New England Review, Flock, The Brooklyn Review, Gulf Stream, and elsewhere. Brown is the Julia Nichols Professor of English at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, where he lives with his wife, the novelist Carrie Brown.


Tope Folarin

Tope Folarin is a Nigerian-American writer based in Washington, DC. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013―the first writer born outside of the continent of Africa to win―and was shortlisted once again for the award in 2016. He was also recently named to the Africa39 list of the most promising African writers under 40. Folarin was educated at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, where he earned two master’s degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. His debut novel, A Particular Type of Black Man, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2019. (Photo Credit: Valerie Woody)


Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of a short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities, and a debut novel, A River of Stars. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post.