Celebrating Marcos Villatoro, Winner of the 2021 Dogwood Literary Award in Nonfiction

The editors are pleased to announce that judge Sejal Shah has named Marcos Villatoro’s essay “My 100 Years of Solitude” as the winner of the 2021 Dogwood Literary Award in Nonfiction. Mr. Villatoro will receive $500 and his story will be published in Dogwood’s 2021 edition.  Finalists for the award were Ellen Graf and Padya Paramita, whose work will also appear in Dogwood 2021, due out in late May.

In her citation selecting Villatoro’s essay, Judge Sejal Shah wrote, “This essay, a beautiful example of the subgenre of bibliomemoir, describes the narrator’s relationship with the book One Hundred Years of Solitude, a text the writer reread frequently, experiencing it anew each time. The essay is also a meditation on being mixed: half Salvadoran, half white in San Francisco, in a small town in Tennessee, and in Los Angeles. I loved the manner in which this essayist’s personal mythology unfolds organically through the narrative, and the reflections on home and heritage as they relate to self-definition. The writing has a momentum and energy that drives the essay forward as well as a strong, lyrical voice.”

Marcos Villatoro is the author of several novels, two collections of poetry and a memoir. His Romilia Chacón crime fiction series has been translated into Japanese, German, Portuguese and Russian. He has written and performed essays on PBS and NPR. His latest work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

After living several years in Central America (his other home territory), Marcos moved to Los Angeles, where he holds the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair of Writing at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Judge Sejal Shah is the author of the debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance (University of Georgia Press, 2020). Her stories and essays have appeared in The Guardian, Brevity, Conjunctions, Guernica, the Kenyon Review Online, Literary Hub, Longreads, and The Rumpus. The recipient of a 2018 NYFA fellowship in fiction, Sejal recently completed a story collection and is at work on a memoir about mental health. She teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University and lives in Rochester, New York. 

The editors would like to thank the hundreds of writers who entered the contest and invite all writers to consider entering again when submissions reopen in the late summer.  Familiarize yourself with a back issue of the magazine or subscribe by clicking on the “buy” tab in the menu above.

Marcos Villatoro, Winner of the Dogwood Literary Award in NonFiction


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