Essay Collection by Joan Frank Wins 2018 River Teeth Book Prize

March 8, 2019

Essay Collection by Joan Frank Wins 2018 River Teeth Book Prize

Congratulations to Joan Frank, the winner of this year’s River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. Her winning manuscript Try to Get Lost: Essays on Travel and Place is focused, most broadly, upon travel and place—but also and equally, popular culture and, by default, autobiography. The essays in the collection explore the breach between a traveler’s vision and the actual. Most of the essays have appeared individually in literary journals such as The Antioch Review, TriQuarterly Online, Another Chicago Magazine, and our own River Teeth (“Cave of the Iron Door,” in Fall 2017, vol. 19.1).

The manuscript was selected by final judge Phillip Lopate, who called it "a bold, engaging disquisition on the perils and promises of travel: both cranky and wise, worldly and cultivated, humorous and rueful, its every sentence sparkles. All in all, it is thoroughly entertaining, a sophisticated pleasure."

River Teeth thanks final judge Phillip Lopate, as well as the many writers who submitted their work for this year’s competition.

Joan Frank is the author of seven books of literary fiction, and a prior book of collected essays called Because You Have to: A Writing Life. Her writing has won previous awards and acclaim. Because You Have to won a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award. Her collection of novellas, Where You're All Going, won the Mary McCarthy Short Fiction Prize and is slated for publication via Sarabande Books in Spring 2020. Her most recent novel, All the News I Need, won the 2016 Juniper Fiction Award for the Novel, and received a rave in People Magazine. Frank also regularly reviews literary fiction and nonfiction for the San Francisco Chronicle. You can read more at

In addition to a $1,000 cash prize, the winning author’s manuscript will be published by the University of New Mexico Press in spring of 2020 as part of its River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize series. Try to Get Lost will be the seventeenth book in the series. Past series winners have gone on to win a PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for Art of the Essay, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a Library Journal prize, and a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, among many other honors and citations.

A list of past winners can be found on our website, including our 2017 winner, I Am a Stranger Here Myself by Debra Gwartney, which is available for purchase starting this month; and our 2016 winner, Mine by Sarah Viren, currently a finalist for a 2019 Lammy Award.


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