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People on the Move

New Orleans writer Ladee Hubbard’s novel, The Talented Ribkins has been named winner of the 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

Now in its 11th year, the Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed $10,000 prize given annually by Baton Rouge Area Foundation donors to recognize outstanding work from rising African-American fiction writers, while honoring Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world. Gaines, a native of Louisiana’s Pointe Coupee Parish and a literary legend, has received a National Medal of Arts (2013), a MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, and the National Humanities Medal. He is a member of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His critically acclaimed novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was adapted into a made-for-TV movie that won nine Emmy awards. His 1993 novel A Lesson Before Dying won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

The award will be presented to Hubbard at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2018, at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at gainesaward@braf.org.

The Talented Ribkins is Hubbard’s first novel. It was inspired by the essay “The Talented Tenth,” written in 1903 by civil rights sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, calling for exceptional men to step up to help save their race.

The Talented Ribkins follows Johnny Ribkins and his family who are on a race to dig up stolen money stashed all over Florida before Johnny’s former mobster boss finds him. Luckily, Johnny’s family holds unusual superpowers that help him in his search although the superpowers get in the way from time to time. The novel incorporates race, class and politics, and the unique gifts that bind the Ribkins family together.

Hubbard is a professor of African studies at Tulane University. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University; a master’s of fine arts in dramatic writing from New York University; a master’s of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin; and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. While attending Princeton, she was mentored by Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison.

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