The Writers’ Program is thrilled to announce Andrea Bitunjac the winner of the 2022 Allegra Johnson Prize.

The final judge panel included Writers’ Program instructors Eileen Cronin, Daniel Jaffe, and Sehba Sarwar. From our semifinalists, the panel selected Andrea Bitunjac’s memoir Fragile Spring, Nishima Chudasama’s novel This Way Home, and Gilly Combe’s memoir Tell Me Again as the competition finalists. Award benefactors Roberta J. M. Olson and Alexander B.V. Johnson selected Andrea Bitunjac’s memoir Fragile Spring in conjunction with the judges as the recipient of this year’s prize. The full list of nominees can be found below.

Allegra Johnson

The Allegra Johnson Prize in Memoir and Novel Writing was created in 2014 by Roberta J.M. Olson and Alexander B.V. Johnson to honor their daughter, a prolific and talented young writer who was working on a memoir and a novel through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program when her life was tragically cut short. This merit-based and instructor-nominated award was created by her parents in the spirit of making a difference in the lives of promising Writers’ Program students in memoir and novel writing.

Of Andrea’s piece, the judges wrote, “The writing is strong and perfectly suited for this memoir; the voice is sophisticated and the structure is well defined. The writer never veers from her course. She employs a subtle style that lures in the reader and she builds on the emotion from scene to scene so that the emotion is earned.”

Of Nishima’s work, the judges wrote, “We loved the historical richness, vividness, and cultural insights of the text as well as the clarity, elegance, and wit of the narrative voice.”

Of Gilly’s memoir, the judges wrote, “We were moved by the narrative. The writer has a compelling voice, and the conflict between the narrator’s pregnancy and her brother’s illness was moving.”

Traditionally, a luncheon is held to honor the prize awardees and let them connect with the nominating instructors, prize benefactors, and each other. Unfortunately the pandemic will postpone this celebration until a later date, but we look forward to celebrating the winners in person when it is safe for all to do so!

Click here for more information about the Allegra Johnson Prize and other scholarship and prize opportunities.

Here are selections from the winning manuscripts:

Andrea Bitunjac

Nishima Chudasama

Gilly Combe

Full list of nominees:
Winner
Andrea Bitunjac, nominated by Amber West
Finalists
Nishima Chudasama, nominated by Henry Lien
Gilly Combe, Master Class in Creative Nonfiction
Nominees
Danielle Altman, nominated by Jessica Barksdale
Danielle Altman, nominated by Paul Witcover
Ellie Axelroth, nominated by Caroline Leavitt
Paul Badinka, nominated by Robert Eversz
Edward Balzer, Master Class in Novel Writing
Melissa Bandy, nominated by Chris Terry
Sean Baron Levi, nominated by Tempany Donovan
Amir Bibawy, nominated by Robert Eversz
Laura Castellanos-Dabb, nominated by Alison Singh Gee
Elizabeth Christie, nominated by Robert Eversz
Julian Cloutier, nominated by Chris Terry
Jourdan Corbitt, nominated by Chris Terry
Ben Decter, Master Class in Creative Nonfiction
Liza DePietro, nominated by Noel Alumit
Beau DeStefani, nominated by Tempany Donovan
Cynthia Doss, nominated by Shawna Kenney
Shane Dutta, nominated by Alison Singh Gee
Tera Eliot, nominated by Alison Singh Gee
James Grffith, nominated by Chris Terry
Rebekah Hanson, nominated by Yelizaveta Renfro
Mark Huenken, nominated by Robert Eversz
Kate Korsh, nominated by Mark Sarvas
Leslie Kreiner Wilson, nominated by Jessica Barksdale
Sarah Lejeune, nominated by Mark Sarvas
Ken Luer, nominated by Noel Alumit
Angela Merlo, Master Class in Novel Writing
Alexandra Moreno, nominated by Tony DuShane
Ellen Murray, nominated by Alison Singh Gee
Julia Napoli, nominated by Tony DuShane
Jaime Raxten, nominated by Trebor Healey
Sonia Reddy, nominated by Yelizaveta Renfro
Sarah Ricard, nominated by Jessica Barksdale
Hawkeye Sheene, nominated by Lynn Hightower
Janice Sinclair, nominated by Paul Witcover
Teo Soares, nominated by Wally Rudolph
Roiza Sommers, nominated by Wally Rudolph
Krista Templeton, nominated by Mark Sarvas

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