Joseph Earl Thomas Wins Chautauqua Janus Prize

portrait of Joseph Earl Thomas

Joseph Earl Thomas, a doctoral student in the Department of English, was awarded the 2020 Chautauqua Janus Prize. First awarded in 2018, the Chautauqua Janus Prize celebrates one emerging writer’s single work of short fiction or nonfiction for daring formal and aesthetic innovations that upset and reorder literary conventions, historical narratives, and readers’ imaginations.

Thomas won for his piece, “Reality Marble,” a memoir that draws on the natural world and the genres of fantasy and science fiction.

“There’s this almost incommunicable subjectivity in childhood that I’m trying to take seriously as a life of thinking in itself that’s very separate from me, rather than a stepping stone toward a better, more stoic and individuated self with an empathetic lure to gaze back on,” Thomas says. “‘Reality Marble,’ using the coming-of-age genre, tries to think about what it’s like to never quite get there, because I certainly never thought I would and plenty of us, every day, don’t.”

Thomas receives $5,000 and will present a public lecture and reading at a celebratory event as part of Chautauqua Institution’s online assembly season this summer. His writing, which has appeared or is forthcoming in The Offingand The Kenyon Review, will also appear in a future issue of the literary journal, Chautauqua.

Read the full announcement here.

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