The Plaza Literary Prize – 2016 Jury

The Plaza Literary Prize welcomes our 2016 Jury–Neelanjana Banerjee, Ben Loory, Lilliam Rivera, Kevin Smokler, and David L. Ulin–an inspiring panel of authors, editors, journalists, and professors. Submissions for our annual novella competition begin on January 1, 2016. When the submission period closes on February 29, 2016, our judges will select one (1) novella to be published by 1888.

NEELANJANA BANERJEE is the Managing Editor of Kaya Press, an independent press dedicated to publishing innovative Asian diasporic literature. She teaches with Writing Workshops Los Angeles, and her fiction, poetry and essays have been published in PANK Magazine, Prairie Schooner, The Rumpus, World Literature Today, The Literary Review and more. She edits the online Book Club feature for The Aerogram, and is co-editor of Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry (University of Arkansas Press).

BEN LOORY (@benloory) is the author of the collection Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day (Penguin, 2011), and a picture book for children, The Baseball Player and the Walrus (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015). His fables and tales have appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, The Rattling Wall, and The Antioch Review, and been heard on NPR‘s This American Life and Selected Shorts. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is an Instructor for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Photo by Heather Conley.

LILLIAM RIVERA (@lilliamr) is a writer whose debut young adult novel will be published by Simon & Schuster in Spring 2017. She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner, a 2015 Clarion alumni, and a 2013 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow. Her work has appeared in Tin HouseBellevue Literary ReviewLos Angeles Times, among others.

KEVIN SMOKLER (@Weegee) is the author of “Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books you Haven’t Touched Since High School” (2013) and a forthcoming book on 80s movies. His cultural essays and criticism have appeared in Salon Vulture, Buzzfeed, The LA Times, Fast Company and on NPR. He lives in San Francisco.

DAVID L. ULIN (@davidulin) is the author, most recently, of Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles. His other books include The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time and the Library of America’s Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, he is book critic of the Los Angeles Times. His novel Ear to the Ground, written with Paul Kolsby, will be published in 2016. Photo by Noah Ulin.



The Plaza Literary Prize is a national novella competition. We believe a great story is never defined by its length and welcome all genres and themes with compelling characters and evocative moments. We’re looking for our generation’s Hemingway, Oates, or Steinbeck.

The City of Orange, California was incorporated on April 6, 1888. The center of the town became known as the Plaza, which has become a symbol of the community and a catalyst for storytelling.

For more information visit For terms and conditions please read

  1. Write a novella and submit via Submittable.
  2. Submissions are accepted from January 1 through February 29. Our team of readers will consider each submission for content, craft, and voice and select ten (10) finalists to be reviewed by our jury. One (1) novella will be selected for publication.