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2022 Winner of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace & Justice in Literature: Randy Ribay

by Kathleen Driskell, Chair, Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing, Spalding University

Patron Saints of Nothing is the Fall 2022 Naslund-Mann Residency Book in Common

I am delighted to announce that the 2022 Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature is awarded to Randy Ribay for his young adult novel Patron Saints of Nothing, published by Penguin Random House in 2019.

The Spalding Prize was established by the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing to honor a work of literature that exemplifies the mission of Spalding University and our community’s core commitment to compassion. The Prize includes a cash award of $7,500 and an invitation to the winner to visit our residency as distinguished visiting writer.

Patron Saints of Nothing is one of the most satisfyingly complex narratives I’ve had the pleasure to read lately. Part mystery, part thriller, and part identity novel, Ribay’s lyrical story is set in present-day Philippines and interrogates the justice of Duterte’s war on drugs. I’m excited to share this read with students, faculty, and alumni of our Naslund-Mann community and look forward to discussing this novel with everyone at residency.

In 2019, Patron Saints of Nothing was a finalist for the National Book Award. Ribay’s novel was also named an NPR Best Book of the Year, an NBC News Best Asian American Young Adult Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Top 10 Best Book of the Year, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. It was also awarded the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) Freeman Book Award.

Ribay was born in the Phillippines and raised in the Midwest. In addition to Patron Saints of Nothing, he’s the author of After the Shot Drops and An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes. Ribay earned his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Master’s degree in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He currently teaches English and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On the evening of Wednesday, November 16, Randy Ribay visits the Naslund-Mann residency to discuss his work with our literary community. A book-signing will follow. We welcome the general public to this event. Details about the place and time will be announced soon.

The next morning, Ribay will attend a Q & A session open only to Naslund-Mann students, faculty, and alumni.

As Writing for Children and Young Adults is our featured genre area for residency this fall, each student and faculty member should read Patron Saints of Nothing in advance of residency to prepare for our book-in-common discussion and Randy Ribay’s presentations to our community.

You can read an excerpt and hear Ribay read from Patron Saints of Nothing at the Penguin Random House website. Ribay talks about his work in an NPR interview.

In addition to reading our residency book in common, all students should read the Faculty Book or Script in Common in the workshop area of their Fall 2022 residency to prepare for the discussion that will take place 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET, Sunday, October 23, just after your virtual introductory workshop session with your faculty leader. Zoom meeting links for will be posted in the Thursday Memo the week before our discussions.

The Faculty Books and Scripts in Common for this fall’s residency are:

Fiction: Lee Martin’s The Bright Forever (Crown)

Poetry: Mitchell L. H. Douglas's dying in the scarecrow’s arms (Persea)

Creative Nonfiction: Karen Salyer McElmurray’s Voice Lessons (Iris Press)

Writing for Children/YA: Lesléa Newman’s Alicia and the Hurricane: A Story of Puerto Rico/Alicia y el huracán: Un cuento de Puerto Rico and Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story

Screenwriting: Bruce Marshall Romans’s Hell on Wheels (pdf available on the portal page)

Playwriting: Gabriel Jason Dean’s The Transition of Doodle Pequeño. Purchase at Dramatic Publishing.

I hope you enjoy reading and thinking about Patron Saints of Nothing as well as the faculty books and scripts in common in your residency area. We’re busily planning a wonderfully enriching Fall 2022 residency for you and are looking forward to being with you soon!


Kathleen Driskell is chair of the Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s the author of four collections of poetry including Blue Etiquette, a finalist for the Weatherford Award; Next Door to the Dead, winner of the 2018 Judy Gaines Young Book Award, and Seed Across Snow, a Poetry Foundation national bestseller. Her chapbook The Vine Temple is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in many magazines including Shenandoah, Symposeum, Southern Review, and Appalachian Review and have been featured in anthologies and online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and American Life in Poetry. She is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of AWP.


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