Jonathan Escoffery Wins Plimpton Prize; Leigh Newman Wins Terry Southern Prize



Left, Jonathan Escoffery (Photo: Colwill Brown); Right, Leigh Newman (Photo: Christopher Gabello)


The Paris Review’s Spring Revel is coming up on April 7. At the Revel, we present annual prizes for outstanding contributions to the magazine, and it is with great pleasure that we announce our honorees for the 2020 Plimpton Prize and the 2020 Southern Prize.

This year’s Plimpton Prize is awarded to Jonathan Escoffery for his story “Under the Ackee Tree,” from our Summer 2019 issue. Escoffery’s “Under the Ackee Tree” follows three generations of a family split between Jamaica and Florida. Escoffery tracks the ways in which fathers and sons misunderstand each other, and the nuanced loss and pain endured by immigrant families, with a keen eye to language and pathos. How do you make things right? As he writes:

If you’re a man who utterly failed his child, you can either lie down to join him in death, or you can do more for those remaining.

The Plimpton Prize for Fiction, presented annually since 1993, is a $10,000 award given to a new voice in fiction. Named after our longtime editor George Plimpton, it commemorates The Paris Review’s zeal for discovering new writers and celebrates an outstanding story written by an emerging writer published by The Paris Review in the previous calendar year.

Upon hearing the news that he had won the Plimpton Prize for Fiction, Jonathan shared, “I don’t know that you can plan to win a prize, but you can dream about it, and I’ve dreamed of winning the Plimpton Prize for Fiction for a very long time.”

At the Spring Revel, the Plimpton Prize will be presented by the novelist Alice McDermott.

This year’s Southern Prize will be presented to Leigh Newman for “Howl Palace,” from our Fall 2019 issue. In Newman’s “Howl Palace,” an Alaskan woman revisits her adventurous past as she prepares to sell her “unique” lakeside home:

To the families on the lake, my home is a bit of an institution. And not just for the wolf room, which my agent suggested we leave off the list of amenities, as most people wouldn’t understand what we meant.

The Terry Southern Prize, presented since 2003, is a $5,000 award honoring “humor, wit, and sprezzatura” in work from either The Paris Review or the Daily. It’s named for Terry Southern, a driving force behind the early Paris Review perhaps best known as a screenwriter behind Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider.

When she heard she’d won the Southern Prize, Leigh shared, “I’m moved and honored—not just because of the caliber of the authors associated with the Terry Southern Prize, authors I deeply admire—but because working on ‘Howl Palace’ with Emily and Hasan, getting to profit from their deeply considered editing, was one of the greatest joys of my writerly life.”

At the Spring Revel, the Southern Prize will be presented by the cartoonist Roz Chast.

We look forward to celebrating the honorees and their work at the 2020 Spring Revel on April 7, at Cipriani 25 Broadway in downtown Manhattan. That night, we will be joined by the 2020 Revel benefit chairs, actor, writer, and director Greta Gerwig and writer and director Noah Baumbach. Singer, songwriter, and musician Bruce Springsteen will present our Hadada Award for lifetime achievement to Richard Ford. Tickets are available on our site.

We are also proud to mention that The Paris Review won the 2020 ASME Award for Fiction for our submission of three stories, two of which were 2020 Plimpton Prize honoree Jonathan Escoffery’s “Under the Ackee Tree” and 2020 Southern Prize honoree Leigh Newman’s “Howl Palace.” Rounding out our winning submission was Kimberly King Parsons’s “Foxes,” from our Summer 2019 issue.

Congratulations to the winners! We hope you will join us to celebrate them, and to usher in a new decade of groundbreaking literature.