Syracuse Names Former Marine Winning Novelist

Dewaine Farria, a former U.S. Marine and U.N. Field Security Officer, has been named the winner of the Syracuse University Press's inaugural Veterans Writing Award. His novel, titled "Revolutions of All Colors," will be published by the press in 2020. The $1,000 award, in cooperation with the university's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), annually selects from unpublished full-length novels or short-story collections written by military-adjacent authors.

In defining the purpose of the award, editors write:
This contest is open to U.S. veterans and active duty personnel in any branch of the U.S. military and their immediate family members. This includes spouses, domestic partners, and children. We encourage women veteran writers and veterans of color to submit. Although work submitted for the contest need not be about direct military experience, we seek original voices and fresh perspectives that will expand and challenge readers’ understanding of the lives of veterans and their families.
Award-winning novelist, short-story writer, Vietnam War veteran, and former Syracuse University faculty member Tobias Wolff served as this year's judge of finalists.

Wolff writes of Farria's work:
Revolutions of All Colors is a vivid, original novel of young men struggling with questions of race, injustice, personal and political violence; of responsibility to family, friends, lovers, sexual identity—of what it means to be a man. With great assurance the narrative ranges from New Orleans to Ukraine, Somalia, Brooklyn, Oklahoma, and from the military world to the worlds of prison, dance, mixed martial arts, even municipal government. It is a remarkable achievement.
According to the Syracuse University Press announcement, Farria’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, CRAFT, Drunken Boat, Outpost Magazine, and on the Afropunk website. He is a frequent contributor to The Mantle. He holds a graduate degree in International and Area Studies from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla. and an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, Vt.

As a U.S. Marine, Dewaine served in Jordan and Ukraine. Besides his stint in the military, Dewaine has spent most of his professional life working for the United Nations, with assignments in the Russian North Caucasus, Kenya, Somalia, and Occupied Palestine. He presently lives in the Philippines with his wife, daughter, two sons, two cats, and a dog.

Also recognized with an honorable mention was U.S. Coast Guard veteran Thomas Bardenwerper, for his manuscript "Mona Passage: A Novel." A former Coast Guard officer with homeports in Maine and Puerto Rico, Bardenwerper is now a law student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Wolff writes of Bardenwerper's work:
Moving in its portrait of families divided by the hostilities of their governments, in this case Cuba and the United States. The narrative is persuasive in its characterization of both Cubans and Americans, its evocation of San Juan, Havana, and life aboard a Coast Guard cutter responsible for intercepting Cuban refugees and sending them back to the country they had good reasons to flee. Certainly a suspenseful, humane, eminently publishable novel.
If the 2020 editorial cycle mirrors this first year's, the competition will re-open mid-December to Mid-February. In the 2019 contest, guidelines included, but were not limited to, the following requirements:
  • Submit a full-length novel or short story collection in manuscript form. Submissions must be double-spaced in a standard twelve-point font (such as Courier or Times New Roman) and should not exceed 90,000 words. The manuscript should be a PDF or Word file (.doc and .docx). Work must be previously unpublished.
  • Manuscripts may be submitted elsewhere at the same time. Please withdraw your manuscript if it is accepted by another publisher or contest and should no longer be considered for this prize.
  • Entrants must not have published a full-length manuscript or collection of stories previously.
  • Proof of military service is not required when submitting. Documentation and verification will be required, however, if a writer’s work reaches the final round of judging.
  • There is no entry fee.
  • Current faculty and staff of Syracuse University are not eligible to enter the contest.
  • Although the contest uses a blind review process, the judge may be able to identify an entrant by the style of writing. The judge will not select an entrant for the award if he has a personal or professional relationship with that individual. Entrants are advised not to enter the contest if the judge is someone they know personally or have worked with professionally.
A full set of 2019 guidelines is here.


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