Areas of Study Schedule A Visit Virtual Tour Request Info Apply Now

Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award

2020 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Fiction (2021 in Literary Nonfiction, 2022 in Poetry)

Congratulations to Ben Lerner, winner of the 2020 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Fiction! The 2020 award presentation originally scheduled to be held in Lee Arena on Tuesday, April 28th at 7:00 p.m. was cancelled. Watch Ben Lerner accept his award via video:

Ben Lerner was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1979. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, Howard, and MacArthur Foundations. His first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, won the 2012 Believer Book Award, and excerpts from 10:04 have been awarded The Paris Review's Terry Southern Prize. He has published three poetry collections: The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw (a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry), and Mean Free Path. Lerner is a professor of English at Brooklyn College.

Judge Andrew Milward's thoughts on this year's winner:

Ben Lerner’s previous novels have been international and cosmopolitan respectively, taking place in Spain and New York City, but in The Topeka School he directs his attention elsewhere, to the place he was born and raised: Topeka, Kansas. He sets his sights on the heart of the country in order to show us something deeply troubling at the heart of our country. With fierce intelligence and crisp prose, Lerner looks to the past to address our present, examining the way we learn to speak and how our failures to communicate individually and as a collective are central to some of our country’s most difficult and pressing divides, whether they be politics, gender, race, class, or culture. We are fortunate to have this terrific poet to push the boundaries of the novel and show us its possibilities.

Behind the name: Learn more about the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award.

This award is sponsored by the Center for Kansas Studies, the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection at Mabee Library and the Friends of Mabee Library.

Please see the award schedule and entry guidelines below.

Award Schedule

2021 Best Literary Nonfiction (memoir, essays, journalistic writing)
2022 Best Poetry (collection of poems of at least 60 pages)
2023 Best Fiction (novel or collection of short stories)
2024 Best Literary Nonfiction
2025 Best Poetry
2026 Best Fiction
continuing to alternate every three years

2021 Literary Nonfiction Award Guidelines

Nominations can come from publishers, authors, or anyone interested in seeing a book considered. Only one book per author may be submitted.

Books must be original work by a single author (no anthologies).

Author must establish a connection to Kansas by birth, education, employment, residence or other significant claim.

Please submit two copies of each book nominated. Those books become the property of the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection.

Books must have an original publication date (copyright notice) within three calendar years immediately preceding the year of the competition deadline
. For example, to be eligible for the 2021 Literary Nonfiction deadline, the nominee's book must have a publication date of 2018, 2019 or 2020.

Previous awardees are eligible to submit a new book.

Nominations for this year's award must be postmarked or presented by December 15, 2020.

Along with a statement of Kansas connection, author email, phone, and postal address, please submit books for consideration to:

c/o Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection
Mabee Library
1700 College
Topeka, KS 66621

Andrew Malan Milward, 2020 Fiction Award Judge
Andrew Malan Milward was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the author of the story collections The Agriculture Hall of Fame, which was awarded the Juniper Prize for Fiction by the University of Massachusetts, and I Was a Revolutionary (HarperCollins, 2015), which was awarded the Friends of American Writers Literature Award and the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award. His fiction has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and appeared in many places, including Zoetrope, American Short Fiction, VQR, The Southern Review, Guernica, as well as Best New American Voices. His first book of nonfiction, Jayhawker: On History, Home, and Basketball will be released Fall 2019. Milward has served as the McCreight Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University, and has received fellowships and awards from the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Corporation of Yaddo. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where he is an assistant professor of English at the University of Kentucky.

Louise Krug, 2021 Literary Nonfiction Award Judge
Louise Krug was born in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in Holland, Michigan. She is an assistant professor of English at Washburn University. Krug is the author of two memoirs about brain surgeries that she had in her twenties, Louise: Amended (one of Publishers Weekly's Best 20 books of 2012) and Tilted: The Post Brain-Surgery Journals, recipient of the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in 2018. She has published essays in The Huffington Post, River Teeth, Juked, various anthologies, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of The University of Kansas' Masters of Fine Arts and doctoral programs. She lives in Topeka, Kansas, with her family.

Washburn Tech logo
Washburn Law Logo

Washburn University prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, veteran status, or marital or parental status. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Dr. Pamela Foster, Equal Opportunity Director/Title IX Coordinator, Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave, Topeka, Kansas 66621, 785.670.1509,

Kansas Degree Stats
back to top button