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Alumna picked one of top five young fiction writers in nation

by Deanne Puca

Oct. 12, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of WMU alumna Melinda Moustakis.
Melinda Moustakis
KALAMAZOO--A recent Western Michigan University alumna has been recognized as one of five young fiction writers of the year by the National Book Foundation.

Melinda Moustakis, who earned her doctoral degree in creative writing from WMU in May 2010, will be recognized by the National Book Foundation as one of the 5 Under 35 award winners for 2011. An award ceremony is set for Monday, Nov. 14, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Moustakis was nominated for the honor by her former advisor, Dr. Jaimy Gordon, WMU professor of English and the 2010 winner of the National Book Award for fiction.

Moustakis earned her master's degree in English and creative writing from the University of California at Davis and her bachelor's degree in English from California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo. A native of Fairbanks, Alaska, she grew up in Bakersfield, Calif.

Her first book, "Bear Down Bear North: Alaska Stories," already has won one of two 2010 Flannery O'Connor Awards for Short Fiction, a prestigious annual prize given by the University of Georgia Press. That work is the same one that garnered the National Book Foundation honor.

She received a research grant from the WMU Graduate College in March 2009 and also has received the Graduate Gwen Frostic Fiction Prize and the Graduate Gordon Prize in Fiction. Her stories have been published in Conjunctions, The Kenyon Review online, Alaska Quarterly Review, PRISM International, Cimarron Review, The Massachusetts Review and elsewhere. She also has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

This is the fifth year of the 5 Under 35 awards for the National Book Foundation. For more information, visit