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Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, On Screen Award, and Maxwell E. Perkins Award

De’Shawn Charles Winslow Wins the 2019 First Novel Prize

De’Shawn Charles Winslow is the 2019 winner of our First Novel Prize for In West Mills (Bloomsbury). Monique Truong presented the award to Winslow on Tuesday, December 10, at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner.

  • Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, On Screen Award, and Maxwell E. Perkins Award

    De’Shawn Charles Winslow

    De’Shawn Charles Winslow

    De’Shawn Charles Winslow was born and raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and in 2003 moved to Brooklyn, New York. He is a 2017 graduate of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and holds a BFA in creative writing and an MA in English literature from Brooklyn College. He has received scholarships from the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. De’Shawn lives in East Harlem.

Six Book Recommendations from De'Shawn Charles Winslow

Writers make great readers, so we asked De’Shawn to share some books he can’t stop recommending to people.

About In West Mills

“Winslow’s quietly glorious novel is dedicated ‘To the reader,’ and it engages on a level that’s appropriately intimate.” – Boston Globe

Let the people of West Mills say what they will about Azalea “Knot” Centre; they won’t keep her from what she loves best: cheap moonshine, nineteenth-century literature, and the company of men. And yet, when motherhood looms, Knot begins to learn that her freedom has come at a high price. Low on money, ostracized from her parents and cut off from her hometown, Knot turns to her neighbor, Otis Lee Loving, in search of some semblance of family and home.

Otis Lee is eager to help. A lifelong fixer, Otis Lee is determined to steer his friends and family away from decisions that will cause them heartache and ridicule. After his failed attempt to help his older sister, who lives a precarious life in the North, Otis Lee discovers a possible path to redemption in the chaos Knot brings to his doorstep. But while he’s busy trying to fix Knot’s life, Otis Lee finds himself powerless to repair the many troubles within his own family, as the long-buried secrets of his troubled past begin to come to light.

Spanning decades in a rural North Carolina town where a canal acts as the color line, In West Mills is a magnificent, big-hearted small-town story about family, friendship, storytelling, and the redemptive power of love.