Nikita Nelin Wins 2019 Dogwood Literary Prize in Nonfiction

The editors are pleased to announce that Nonfiction Judge Lia Purpura has chosen Nikita Nelin’s essay “The Taste of It” as this year’s Nonfiction Prize Winner in the Dogwood Literary Prize.  Mr. Nelin will receive $1,000 and his essay will be published in Dogwood’s 2019 edition.  Finalists for the prize were Sheila Madary and Charlotte Gullick, each of whose work will also appear in Dogwood 2019, due out in late May.

In her citation choosing Nelin’s essay, “The Taste of It,” Judge Lia Purpura wrote, “‘In ‘The Taste of It,’ taste becomes an existential measure and a revelatory lens – a thoroughly unique way back to and into identity. Surprising, original, muscular language — shows the maker looking hard at the very objects and gestures of their surroundings. This is an important story and addresses the nuances, the nearly lost elements of one’s past life — an issue all immigrants, living in tenuous, liminal space, must wrestle with.  Fantastic ear for dialogue and inflection, eye for details and objects — and a keen sense of arrangement and juxtaposition. Scenes are gorgeously drawn. This speaks to all immigrants’ stories — the edge life, the fear, the mistrust, the innocence of a kid, the way kid logic works in place of understanding the adult world. Absolutely beautiful, authentic, probing work.”

Nikita Nelin was born in Moscow, Russia, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1989. He has lived in Austria and Italy and has traveled the U.S. extensively. His work has received the 2010 Seán Ó Faoláin Prize for short fiction and the 2011 Summer Literary Seminars Prize for nonfiction, and landed on the finalist list for the 2017 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing and the 2018 Dzanc Nonfiction Prize. He holds an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College and is a 2019 associate fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center. He has published at print and online. You can find more of his work at and on Patreon.

Judge Lia Purpura is the author of eight collections of essays, poems, and translations, most recently a collection of poems, It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful (Penguin.) On Looking (essays, Sarabande Books) was finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her awards include Guggenheim, NEA, and Fulbright Fellowships, as well as four Pushcart Prizes, the Associated Writing Programs Award in Nonfiction, and others.  Her work appears in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Orion, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, Agni, and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore, MD, is Writer in Residence at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop’s MFA program.


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