2018 fiction judges

Minal Hajratwala
Minal Hajratwala is author of the award-winning epic Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (2009), which was called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post, and editor of Out! Stories from the New Queer India (2013). Her latest book is Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a collective of which she is a co-founder. She graduated from Stanford University, was a fellow at Columbia University, and was a 2011 Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar. As a writing coach, she loves helping people give voice to untold stories through the  Write Like a Unicorn portal. Her Granta essay “A Brief Guide to Gender in India” was named one of the 10 best pieces of writing on the web for 2015 by the Golden Giraffes.

Elizabeth McKenzie
Elizabeth McKenzie is the author of The Portable Veblen, long listed for the 2016 National Book Award for fiction and finalist for the Baileys Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and recorded for NPR’s Selected Shorts. Her collection, Stop That Girl, was short-listed for The Story Prize, and her novel MacGregor Tells the World was a Chicago TribuneSan Francisco Chronicle and Library Journal Best Book of the year. McKenzie received her MA from Stanford in English and Creative Writing and is the senior editor of the Chicago Quarterly Review and the managing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader.

Abby Smith Rumsey
Abby Smith Rumsey is a historian who writes about how ideas and information technologies shape perceptions of history, of time, and of personal and cultural identity. Trained at Harvard as a Russian scholar, she has worked in Soviet-era archives, spent a decade at the Library of Congress, and has consulted on digital collecting and curation, intellectual property issues, and the economics of digital information for a variety of universities and the National Science Foundation. Her most recent publication is When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Will Shape Our Future. She lives in San Francisco.


2018 nonfiction judges

Mark Arax
Mark Arax is the author of West of the WestIn My Father's Name, and co-author of The King of California. He is a contributing writer at Los Angeles Magazine and a former senior writer at the Los Angeles Times. He teaches nonfiction writing at Claremont McKenna College and lives in Fresno. A top graduate of Fresno State and Columbia University, Mark left the Los Angeles Times in 2007 after a public fight over censorship of his story on the Armenian Genocide. He has taught literary non fiction at Claremont McKenna College and Fresno State University and served as a senior policy director for the California Senate Majority Leader. Arax and his co-author won the 2005 Saroyan Prize for The King of California.

Hank Saroyan
Hank Saroyan's thirty-five year career in entertainment has run the gamut from performing, to writing, producing, directing, and composing for television and features. He is one of few directors with Emmy Awards for directing in live-action (William Saroyan's The Parsley Garden) and animation (Jim Henson's Muppet Babies.)

Between projects, Hank can be found on stage performing "A Tribute to William Saroyan--In His Own Words," accompanied by renowned jazz and classical musicians such as cellist, Eugene Friesen, pianist, Philip Aaberg and others. Kevin Starr, friend of William Saroyan and Professor of History at University of Southern California, wrote:

"There is music in the prose of William Saroyan and his nephew Hank Saroyan and his colleagues are now releasing that music with new intensity through a magic amalgam of musical artistry and the spoken word. William Saroyan now speaks to us, once again, with the full force of his living presence.

Barbara Warnock