Alumni and Faculty Shortlisted for 2021 CLMP Firecracker Awards

BY Nicole Saldarriaga, May 18, 2021

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses recently announced its shortlist for the 2021 Firecracker Awards, given annually "to celebrate books and magazines that make a significant contribution to our literary culture and the publishers that strive to introduce important voices to readers far and wide." 


Temporary (Coffee House Press, 2020) by alumna and Adjunct Professor Hilary Leichter '12, Just Us: An American Conversation (Graywolf Press, 2020) by alumna Claudia Rankine '93, and Year of the Dog (BOA Editions, 2020) by Associate Professor Deborah Paredez were all named finalists for a Firecracker Award. Temporary is up for the award in the Fiction category, Just Us in the Creative Nonfiction category—which is being judged in part by alumna E.J. Koh '13—and Year of the Dog in the Poetry category.


All three works have been met with great acclaim since their publication. Leichter's Temporary, which follows a young woman working as a temp in increasingly absurd jobs, was longlisted for a 2021 PEN America Literary Award, shortlisted for the 2021 NYPL Young Lions Award, and shortlisted for the Center for Fiction's 2020 First Novel Prize. The novel was also named one of NPR's Best Books of 2020


Hilary Leichter has received fellowships from The Edward F Albee Foundation, the Table 4 Writers Foundation, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches in the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Columbia University.


Rankine's Just Us was also named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR and was a finalist for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. Kirkus Reviews called the work, which is a combination of essay, poetry, analysis, criticism, and more, "a work that should move, challenge, and transform every reader who encounters it." 


Claudia Rankine is a poet, essayist, and playwright. Just Us completes her groundbreaking trilogy, following Don't Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen. She is a MacArthur Fellow and teaches at Yale University.


Paredez's Year of the Dog is a collection of poetry that tells her story as a witness of violence and a Latina daughter of the Vietnam war. The collection is a New York Times Books New and Notable Poetry Book and was named a most anticipated small press book of 2020 by Big Other. According to Publishers Weekly, “Paredez has a gift for storytelling through form. This is an astonishing book.”


Deborah Paredez is the author of the poetry collections, This Side of Skin (Wings Press 2002) and Year of the Dog (BOA Editions 2020), and of the critical study, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (Duke 2009). Her poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Boston Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the co-founder of CantoMundo, a national organization dedicated to Latinx poets and poetry. She holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Theatre and Performance Studies from Northwestern University. Paradez is currently working on a book of essays about divas.


Winners of the Firecracker awards will be announced at a virtual ceremony hosted by the Center for Fiction on June 23, 2021. Award winners will benefit from a national publicity campaign in partnership with the American Booksellers Association.