Anthony C. Winkler, a Jamaican-born career textbook writer, emerged as the dark horse winner of the Townsend Prize on Thursday night for his eighth novel, God Carlos. The 72-year-old Winkler’s rollicking satire of the Spanish conquest of Jamaica triumphed over nine finalists for Georgia’s most prestigious literary award. Nominees included critically acclaimed writers Jamie Quatro and Amber Dermont and bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson. Winkler, whose fiction is shaped by his island homeland, has lived in Atlanta since 1979.
In recent years the prize ceremony has become a high-profile literary event celebrated at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. National Book Award–winning novelist Jesmyn Ward delivered the keynote address to Atlanta’s literary community last night.
Celebrating “the Southern voice in all its intricacies and incarnations” — and recognizing the diversity of the New South — the Townsend Prize for Fiction is awarded every two years to an outstanding novel or short story collection by a Georgia author.
Created in 1981 in memory of Jim Townsend, the founding editor of Atlanta magazine who mentored many distinguished writers in his time, the prize is jointly sponsored by the Chattahoochee Review, Georgia Perimeter College and the Georgia Center for the Book. Thomas Mullen won the 2012 Townsend for his novel The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers. Past winners include Alice Walker, Ha Jin, Terry Kay and Kathryn Stockett.