HZWP Fiction alumna Karen Outen is one of six recipients of thh 2018 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award. Rona Jaffe (1931-2005) established The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program in 1995. It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated to supporting women writers exclusively. The emphasis is on those in the early stages of their writing careers. This unique program offers grants to writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry to make writing time available and provide assistance for such specific purposes as child care, research and related travel costs. Since the program began, the Foundation has awarded more than $2.5 million to emergent women writers.
Karen Outen is working on a first novel, The Life After, about 47-year-old African-American Dixon Bryant who loses his brother on a fateful climb on Mount Everest. After the disaster, an amputee and unmoored, Bryant returns to work as a middle school counselor where he encounters a troubled boy. Their clashes set off a series of events that lead to Bryant’s arrest and threaten to destroy him. Her nominator writes, “Karen’s prose is limpid, her ear for speech finely tuned; her characterizations are consistently vivid and moving. Her imaginative resources and capacities as a prose stylist are on full display.” Ms. Outen is also working on a collection of personal essays about her mother’s youth and her own adolescence. Ms. Outen received her B.A. from Drew University and her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in Glimmer Train and The North American Review. Her Writer’s Award will allow her to take a sabbatical from her job at George Washington University Law School to focus her attention on completing her novel. She says, “Time has become the thing I think about most: the time spent trying to make time for my writing, the time spent not being able to make that space, the time I cannot get back. I see this award as my way to stop time and mold it around my writing.” Ms. Outen lives in Bowie, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.