By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘Changing and Challenging Circumstances’Feminist Press at City University of New York (CUNY) has announced its 2016 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize winner. Submissions for its 2017 competition open May 1.
In press materials, Chin’s work is described as exploring “oppression, dissent, artistic freedom, and the human condition through a series of interconnected vignettes,” set mostly in her native Malaysia. Chin is a software engineer who today lives in New York City.
According to eligibility details, the prize is open to, “women and nonbinary writers of color (or those who self-identify as other than white) who are residents of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, and US territories and possessions; 18 years of age or older at time of entry; and who have not had a book published or have a book under contract at the time of submission.”
The eponymous Louise Meriwether published Daddy Was a Number Runner in 1970 at the founding of Feminist Press, and the prize today is a partnership between Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine. The winner receives $5,000 and a publishing contract with Feminist Press.
In its self-descriptive material, Feminist Press says that the company was founded “to advance women’s rights and amplify feminist perspectives.
“Feminist Press publishes classic and new writing from around the world, creates cutting-edge programs, and elevates silenced and marginalized voices in order to support personal transformation and social justice for all people.”
An event celebrating Chin’s prize-winning work is scheduled for March 28.
In commentary on her work, Chin writes, “If you peruse the news for recent reports on Malaysia, you will get a sense of the topics I’m compelled to write about: rampant corruption, detentions without trial, and the crackdown on dissent and artistic freedom.
“These form the backdrop of my manuscript, Though I Get Home. In the title story, Isabella Sin, a young Malaysian, goes from ordinary small-town girl to prisoner of conscience in the country’s most notorious detention camp, where inmates never know if they will ever leave.
“Other stories in the collection feature myriad characters fighting fate in their own way: An immigrant to Malaya improvises for survival; a victim of dictatorship takes more control over her destiny; a religious man doggedly performs good deeds in order to keep his personal demons at bay, but in vain. The stories all delve into personal motivations amid changing and challenging circumstances. “