Vermont Book Award

The Vermont Book Award is a new prize created to honor artists with deep connections to the state of Vermont, and to draw attention to a state so uniquely suited for creative enterprise.

VCFA will host the Vermont Book Award September 24, 2016. In keeping with our mission of promoting emerging and established artists, the Vermont Book Award will recognize outstanding poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and children’s literature penned by either a Vermont writer or a writer with deep ties to the state of Vermont.

The nine finalists are:

Children’s literature

  • Jo Knowles, Read Between the Lines: Does anyone ever see us for who we really are? This Young Adult novel of interlocking stories peers behind the scrim as it follows nine teens and one teacher through a seemingly ordinary day.
  • Tamara Ellis Smith, Another Kind of Hurricane: In this stunning debut novel, for middle grade readers, two very different characters—a black boy who loses his home in Hurricane Katrina and a white boy in Vermont who loses his best friend in a tragic accident—come together to find healing


  • David Huddle, Dream Sender: An account of spiritual survival through the practice of literary art, the poems in Dream Sender move among a variety of poetic forms and voices.
  • Major Jackson, Roll Deep: This breakthrough volume evokes the vernacular notion of “rolling deep” to explore human intimacy and conflict with masterful musicality.
  • Julia Shipley, Academy of Hay: This debut collection lingers in the liminal spaces where transition and connection occur. Academy of Hay delivers a feminist response to our world straight from the earth.

Creative nonfiction

  • Sean Prentiss, Finding Abbey: When the great environmental writer Edward Abbey died in 1989, four of his friends buried him secretly in a hidden desert spot that no one would ever find. This book follows the author who went looking for Abbey’s grave, combining an account of his quest with a creative biography of Abbey.


  • Castle Freeman, Devil in the Valley: Placed in the classic setting of rural Vermont, this novel tells a story of temptation and greed, and explores what we’re willing to trade to obtain the things we most desire. It’s a memorable story that explores the supernatural while staying rooted deeply in our world.
  • Jeffrey Lent, Slant of Light: At the close of the Civil War, a weary veteran returns to his home in western New York State to find his wife and hired man missing and his farm in disrepair. A double murder ensues, the repercussions of which ripple through a community with spiritual roots in the Second Great Awakening.
  • Jennifer McMahon, The Night Sister: This novel is an atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.

To be eligible for the 2016 prize, a book must have a publication date between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015 and must be penned by a Vermont writer or by a writer with deep ties to the state of Vermont. For instance, a writer might have been born and raised in the state of Vermont, but isn’t currently living here. A writer might have family ties in Vermont and have spent significant time in the state as a child or an adult. The setting of the nominated book might reflect these ties.

Books by VCFA staff, faculty, trustees, or current students are not eligible. Self-published books are not eligible.

Who nominates the books?

A special nominating committee, made up of the Independent Booksellers of Vermont, and chaired by Claire Benedict of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier. Publishers may also nominate books.

When was the nomination deadline?

March 1, 2016.

Who chooses the finalists? And the winner?

A panel of seven esteemed judges will first announce a shortlist of finalists in each category. The judges will then decide on one winner. The winning book may be in any category.

Finalists will be announced next summer, and the winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony at VCFA in fall 2016, where he/she will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

How can I get involved?

If you know of a book that should be nominated, please contact your local bookstore. Remember all nominations must be received by March 1, 2016. See list of participating booksellers in the sidebar.

I am a bookseller or publisher, and I'd like to nominate a book.

Nomination for 2016 is closed.

Can I attend the awards ceremony?

Yes! The Gala will be September 24, 2016. You can purchase your tickets here.


Miciah Bay Gault
Program Director, MFA in Writing & Publishing
Editor, Hunger Mountain

Nominating Committee of Independent Booksellers of Vermont

Bear Pond Books
Claire Benedict, Vermont Book Award Nominating Committee Chair
77 Main St.
Montpelier, VT 05602

Next Chapter Bookstore
Cynthia Duprey
158 North Main St.
Barre, VT 05641

Village Square Booksellers
Alan and Pat Fowler
32 The Square
Bellows Falls, VT 05101

The Bennington Bookshop
Linda Foulsham and Phil Lewis
467 Main Street
Bennington, VT 05201
Connect with them on Facebook here!

Phoenix Books
Tod Gross, Manager
191 Bank Street
Burlington, VT 05401

21 Essex Way
Essex, VT 05452

Galaxy Bookshop
Andrea Jones and Sandy Scott
41 South Main St.
Hardwick, VT 05843

Ebenezer Books
Jennifer (JJ) Indeliclae
2 Lower Main St.
Johnson, VT 05656
Connect with them on Facebook here!

Northshire Books
Debbi Wraga
4869 Main Street
Manchester, VT 05255

The Vermont Book Shop
Becky Dayton
38 Main St.
Middlebury, VT 05753

Norwich Bookstore
Liza Bernard
291 Main St.
Norwich, VT 05055

The Flying Pig Bookstore
Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt
5247 Shelburne Road, Suite 102
Shelburne, VT 05482

Bridgeside Books
Hiata DeFeo
29 Stowe St.
Waterbury, VT 05676

Bartleby’s Books and Music
Lisa Sullivan
17 West Main St.
Wilmington, VT 05363