My wife, Dianne, and I are very happy to be a part of this exciting project established by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to recognize the best newly published African-American writers from across the country.
— Ernest J. Gaines

Crystal Wilkinson

Kentucky writer, poet and educator Crystal Wilkinson’s novel, “Birds of Opulence,” has been named winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. 

“Birds of Opulence” follows several generations of women in the Goode-Brown family in the fictional Southern black township of Opulence. The family is plagued by mental illness and illegitimacy, as well as the accompanying embarrassment. As younger generations watch their mothers and grandmothers pass on, they also fear going mad and must fight to survive.

Wilkinson earned a journalism degree from Eastern Kentucky University in 1985 and a master’s degree in fine arts for creative writing from Spalding University in Louisville. She is writer in residence at Berea College in Kentucky.