Berry alum Brenna Conley has been named one of seven short-list finalists for the prestigious Paris Literary Prize for her novella, "Protection."
The winner of this international prize will receive 10,000 euros ($13,093) and an all-expenses paid trip to Paris to read from the winning piece. The prize ceremony will take place on June 16.
Conley, who graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English from Berry College in May 2012, wrote her novella "Protection" as her Honors thesis. She received guidance on her piece from Berry Associate Professor of English Jim Watkins and Michael Mejia, now an assistant professor of English at the University of Utah.
"There are a few touchy concepts explored in the piece, and my discussions with Watkins on the difficulty of writing these materials helped me through the process," Conley said. "Professor Mejia was the head of my committee and met with me frequently to help my piece find direction and clarity. He was, if this makes sense, a psychiatrist for the words I wrote-pushing me to ask myself questions and seek out my own answers."
In addition, Conley received more help from Berry Professor of English Sandra Meek, Visiting Assistant Professor of English Abigail Greenbaum and Visiting Professor of Art Marguerite Dreyer.
The novella was submitted for the Paris Literary Prize by Honors Program Director and Associate Professor of Communication Brian Carroll.
"I really believed in the quality of her work, which is an inventive, even provocative updating of Greek myth," Carroll said. "When I saw the Paris prize call, I immediately thought of Brenna's novella and felt she had a chance."
The novella, "Protection," is a retelling of the Greek mythology about Persephone, also known as Kore.
"When I discovered I was on the short list, I felt like I had been dipped in gold," Conley said. "The idea that somewhere, someone I have never met sat down, and read my words, and found them worthy of recognition lights me up on the inside."
The Paris Literary Prize was established in 2010 by Shakespeare and Company and the de Groot Foundation and is an international fiction competition for unpublished writers. Conley was named one of 26 long-list finalists in mid-March and one of seven short-list finalists in April.
"Even if she doesn't win, the recognition gained from being a finalist can catapult a young writer's career," Carroll said.
Two runner-up awards of 2,000 euros each will be announced in addition to the Paris Literary Prize. All three award winners will be invited to Paris, where they will attend the prize ceremony and read their work at Shakespeare and Company.
Written by Student Public Relations Student Alyssa Hollingsworth