Former Writers’ Program student J. Ryan Stradal has won the 2016 Indies Choice Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year for his novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest (Viking, 2015). Kitchens has taken the literary world by storm since its publication last year, and has been featured in People, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post; was named one of the Best Books of 2015 by the Chicago Public Library; and was even included on Martha Stewart Living’s Summer Reading List.

“I signed up for my first Writers’ Program class back in 2004 having never taken a workshop-style prose writing class in my life,” says Stradal, now a New York Times-bestselling author. “I give the instructors so much credit in helping me develop my voice, craft, and discipline; I’d been writing my entire life, but until I took a WP class, I’d never had to revise a story. Any awards I’ve been fortunate enough to win, and any skill I’ve developed as a writer and an editor, I can trace back to the lessons I learned at UCLA Extension.”

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