Winners of the 2023 Freund Prize for Creative Writing read on November 2

The Department of Literatures in English celebrates the winners of the 2023 Philip Freund Prize for Creative Writing in recognition of excellence in publication: Lanre Akinsiku, Jennifer Gilmore, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, and Alexi Zentner.

The alumni prize is supported by the Philip Freund '29 endowment and comes with a $5000 award and an invitation to participate in the Freund Prize Reading in the fall semester.

The 2023 Freund Prize Reading will take place on Thursday, November 2 at 5:00 p.m. in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, G70 Klarman Hall. Recipients will read from their award-winning work. Books by the authors will be available for purchase thanks to Ithaca's local cooperative bookstore Buffalo Street Books, and a book signing will follow the reading.

More about the 2023 Freund Prize recipients:

Lanre Akinsiku

Lanre Akinsiku (MFA ’16), writer

LANRE AKINSIKU is a writer from the Bay Area. He is the author of the Blacktop series, which received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, and was named as one of 2016's Best Books by the New York Public Library. His short fiction and essays have appeared in NPR, the Washington Post, the Kenyon Review, Zocalo Public Square, and elsewhere. He's taught creative writing at Rowan University, the University of Pennsylvania and Brown University. He currently lives in Providence, RI.

Jennifer Gilmore

Jennifer Gilmore (MFA ’98), novelist & essayist

JENNIFER GILMORE is the critically acclaimed author of five novels, including The Mothers,  which was featured on Fresh Air, Something Red, a New York Times Notable Book, which is currently being adapted to film, and Golden Country, which was a New York Times Notable Book, and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Harold U Ribalow Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Atlantic, Bookforum, Harper’s Magazine, the Forward, the Los Angeles Times, New York magazine, the New York Times, Real Simple, Salon, the Washington Post, and Vogue. Gilmore has taught creative writing and literature at Barnard, Cornell, Harvard, New York University, the New School, Princeton, and Sarah Lawrence. She is currently an assistant professor at Lafayette College. 

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu  (BA ’19),  author

 YVETTE LISA NDLOVU is a Zimbabwean sarungano. Her debut short story collection Drinking from Graveyard Wells (University Press of Kentucky) was selected for the 2021 UPK New Poetry & Prose Series and her novel manuscript-in-progress was selected by George R.R. Martin for the Worldbuilder Scholarship. She earned her BA at Cornell University and her MFA at UMass Amherst. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Tin House Workshop, Bread Loaf Writers Workshop, and the New York State Summer Writers Institute. She is the Newhouse Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Wellesley College and has taught at UMass Amherst, Clarion West online, and the Juniper Institute for Young Writers. She is the co-founder of the Voodoonauts Summer Fellowship for Black SFF writers. Her work has been anthologized in the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction 2021 and the NAACP-award nominated Africa Risen (Tor). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Columbia Journal, F&SF,, Lightspeed, FANTASY Magazine, and Fiyah Literary Magazine for Black Speculative Fiction.  

Alexi Zentner

Alexi Zentner (MFA ’09), novelist & screenwriter

ALEXI ZENTNER is the author of seven novels: Copperhead, The Lobster Kings, and Touch, and under the pseudonym Ezekiel Boone, he is the author of the internationally bestselling The Hatching trilogy, which includes the books The Hatching, Skitter, and Zero Day, as well as The Mansion. His work has been published or is forthcoming in more than sixteen countries and a dozen languages, and is under development for the screen. He is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Binghamton University.

Lanre Akinsiku photo by Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, Alexi Zentner photo by Laurie Willick


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Freund Prize Recipients