Texas writer Ramona Reeves selected for Pitt’s Drue Heinz Prize

Ramona Reeves, of Austin, Texas, is the 2022 winner of the University of Pittsburgh Press Drue Heinz Literature Prize, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for a collection of short stories.

Reeves' debut book, “It Falls Gently All Around,” was selected by novelist Elizabeth Graver. As part of the prize, the University of Pittsburgh Press will publish “It Falls Gently All Around,” next fall.

“These big-hearted stories offer a kaleidoscopic vision of Mobile, Alabama, a place marked by a tangled history and no less tangled present,” Graver said of the the book. “With insight, humor, and tenderness, Ramona Reeves renders lives as notable for their frailties and bruises as they are for their grace and grit. Like the work of Sherwood Anderson or Elizabeth Strout, these linked stories take us deep inside a community, even as they plumb the solitary, fiercely particular depths of inner life.”

This collection of 11 linked stories features Babbie, a thrice-divorced former call girl, and Donnie, a sobriety-challenged trucker turned yogi. Along with their community of exes, in-laws, and co-workers, Babbie and Donnie share a longing to forge better lives and leave behind their pasts.

“I grew up in Mobile and became intrigued with writing about class in this setting as a way to explore it in the South, and hopefully, elsewhere,” Reeves said in a news release. “In these stories specifically, I wondered about the ways different classes might intersect or repel.

“Expect to read about a sliver of the U.S. that hasn’t been widely represented in fiction. Expect to see characters mired in situations that often contain dark humor, and in a manner of speaking, readers might expect to learn who can and can’t be saved." 

Reeves is a winner of the Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, has been an A Room of Her Own Foundation fellow, and a resident at the Kimmel Nelson Harding Center for the Arts in Nebraska. Her writing has appeared in The Southampton Review, New South, Bayou Magazine, Texas Highways, and elsewhere.

“As a late bloomer and queer writer from the South, winning (the Drue Heinz) prize means the world to me,” Reeves said. “Knowing that the stories in this collection will find a wider audience is incredibly gratifying.”

Learn more about her at https://ramonareeves.com/