The University of Iowa

Marra Awarded National Book Critics Circle Prize

Anthony (Tony) Marra, a 2011 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, has been awarded the John Leonard Prize by the National Book Critics Circle for his debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. The John Leonard Prize honors first books in any genre as selected by a direct vote of the NBCC's nearly 600-member constituency. This is the first year for the prize, named to honor founding NBCC member John Leonard.

Marra has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and has received a Pushcart Prize, a Narrative Prize, and a Whiting Writers' Award. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena has been long listed for the National Book Award. Dwight Garner of The New York Times describes the novel, which takes place in Chechnya, as "ambitious and intellectually restless," "humane and absurd."

Marra's lectures on craft and research will be featured in the International Writing Program's free Massive Open Online Course, "How Writers Write: Talks on Craft and Commitment," early this summer. A course description can be found at