Southeast Missouri State University Press

2016 Nilsen Prize Winner

Congratulations to the winner and finalists for the 2016 Nilsen Literary Prize for a First Novel.

The Patron Saint of Lost Girls
Maureen Aitken, Minneapolis, MN

Born and raised in Detroit, Maureen Aitken teaches writing at the University of Minnesota, where she received her MFA degree. The recipient of two Pushcart Prize nominations, her stories have appeared in venues including Prairie Schooner, The Journal, Night Train, and Puerto del Sol.

The Patron Saint of Lost Girls is about Mary, a Detroit native who must transcend violence in her urban environment by facing her fears of exploitation, abuse, and death. An ode to the creative spirit’s ability to transcend hardship, The Patron Saint of Lost Girls paints an unflinching portrait of the violence and injustice inflicted on women in America, while also exploring the depth of familial connections and what it meant to live in Detroit in the 70s and 80s.



The Essential Nature of Water; Or, The Everard File
Heather N. Martin, Englewood, CO


The Last Innocent Years: Stories
Kerry Jones, Wichita, KS


Or Wanting to Be Known
Miranda Schmidt, Portland,OR


Pioneer Camp
Christian Felt, Ogden, UT


The Visibility of Things Long Submerged
George Looney, Erie, PA