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V.I. Writer Wins Literary Award

Virgin Islander Tiphanie Yanique, an assistant professor of writing at the New School and a graduate of All Saints Cathedral School, has won 0the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize presented by The Center for Fiction for her 368-page debut novel, "Land of Love and Drowning."

Yanique’s book was selected from a field of 25 other debut novels. Yanique was presented with the $10,000 prize at the center’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner Dec. 9 at the New York Athletic Club.

“The Flaherty-Dunnan Center for Fiction Prize is a national one. It feels incredibly gratifying that the Virgin Islands is being noticed and lauded on a national level in this way," Yanique said in a news release issued Wednesday by Government House. "Yes, we are a place of great natural beauty – world class beaches, hiking trails, etc. But we are also a place where serious art is being created by the human beings who call the Virgin Islands home. I hope this prize brings more attention to the many hard working and talented writers, painters, dancers and other artists in and from the Virgin Islands.”

"Land of Love and Drowning" is a family saga chronicling three generations of a St. Thomas family during the years from 1916 to 1970. The book has been described as "a love letter to the Virgin Islands, both the land and spirit of the place" by commentator Brooke Obie in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Madison Smartt Bell reviewed the book for the Boston Globe and wrote, "This novel builds its best effects rather slowly, but in the end Yanique succeeds in evoking the panorama of the Virgin Islands in a voice all her own."

Yanique is also the author of "How to Escape a Leper Colony: A Novella and Stories", as well as short fiction, essays and poetry. Her children’s book, "I Am The Virgin Islands," was commissioned by her aunt, Cecile de Jongh, First Lady, as a Christmas gift to the territory’s children in 2012. In 2011, her work was featured in the Virgin Islands Humanities Council’s "We the People" initiative.

Yanique is a member of the Smith and Galiber families of St. Thomas and St. Croix. She was raised by her grandparents, Beulah Smith Harrigan and Delvin Harrigan, in the Hospital Ground neighborhood. After graduating from All Saints High School in 1996, she attended Tufts University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in 2000. Not long after, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in English literature and creative writing at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus in Jamaica and at the university’s St. Augustin campus in Trinidad where she researched Caribbean female writers. Her master’s degree in creative writing was earned at the University of Houston, where she held a Cambor Fellowship.

Yanique has taught writing and teaching courses at Drew University. She is an assistant professor of writing at the New School, teaching undergraduate and graduate students.

"John and I are incredibly proud of my niece, Tiphanie, and all her accomplishments. She is a wonderful wife, mother, sister, niece along with being a talented and prolific writer,” first lady de Jongh said.

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