A $25,000 grant recently awarded to the Fiction Collective Two at the University of Houston-Victoria will make one author very happy and bring additional exposure to UHV’s burgeoning publishing center.
The Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family Foundation, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, awarded the funds to FC2. After also receiving the award last year, FC2 started a fiction-writing contest that awards a $15,000 first-place prize to midcareer authors.
The family of the late Catherine Doctorow set up the foundation in her memory, FC2 Managing Editor Carmen Edington said. Catherine Doctorow was the first wife of Jarvis Doctorow and was active in philanthropy.
“The family members are focused on the arts, and their support of writing has been amazing,” Edington said.
For FC2, which publishes six titles of experimental fiction annually, the award is a boon. FC2’s focus is works that are original, creative and contemporary but too outside the mainstream to be published by most large publishing house. FC2 specializes in innovative works from up-and-coming authors.
The Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize is one of the largest in the nation for a writing contest. The prize will be mutually beneficial, as the winner will receive prize money and a published book, while FC2 will benefit from having an established author’s name associated with it, Edington said. Submission guidelines dictate an author must have three published books to his credit.
“We get hundreds of entries in this contest, many of whom are from renowned writers,” she said. “The established audiences of these authors will see the FC2 name and want to read some of our other published titles.”
Edington said the award, which comes during a time of cuts to arts and education funding, is instrumental to a small press such as FC2.
“We are so appreciative of the foundation,” Edington said. “It’s especially gratifying given that writing must compete for support funds with the visual arts, theater, dance, music and more.”
FC2 also gives out the American Book Review Ronald Sukenik Prize for Innovative Fiction. Last year’s winner, Amelia Gray, a fall American Book Review Reading Series speaker at UHV, has been signed to Farrar-Straus-Giroux, an imprint of the international Macmillan Publishing.
Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, said entities like the Doctorow Foundation help small presses continue the important work of publishing authors who are often overlooked by commission-based agents and sales-focused publishers.
“We are honored to be so strongly supported by the Doctorow Foundation, which supports the arts in a way few are doing today,” Di Leo said. “A part of our mission is to support innovative fiction, and we, in turn, appreciate the support of these benefactors.”
In addition to FC2, UHV is home to the American Book Review, a publication that specializes in reviews of frequently neglected fiction, poetry and literary works; Cuneiform Press, which publishes poetry, typography and artists’ books; symploke¯, a comparative literary and theory journal; and the Society for Critical Exchange, the oldest scholarly society dedicated to theory and an innovator in humanities and the social sciences.