Andrew J. Graff, visiting assistant professor of English at Wittenberg University, has earned a 2022 Ohio Arts Council (OAC) Individual Excellence Award in the fiction category for his debut novel Raft of Stars.
“Learning I was a recipient of the Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Excellence Award for my writing was a tremendous affirmation,” Graff said. “I worked toward publishing a novel for the better part of a decade, so having my debut novel, Raft of Stars, recognized at this level was a real honor. I am so thankful to the OAC for the honor and award, and I am so thankful to Wittenberg University for the wonderful place to teach and to write.”
The OAC’s anonymous, open-panel review process is focused on the basis of exceptional merit of an artist’s past body of work.
Just five days after its publication in March of 2021, Raft of Stars landed on the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association best-sellers list. The book was also selected as an Indie Next pick for April 2021, named one of Parade’s Best Books for Spring 2021, and promoted as Lead Read by publisher Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins.
A state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically, the OAC annually presents individual excellence awards to creative artists whose work exemplifies their specific discipline and advances the larger artistic community.
The awards also support artists' growth and development, while recognizing their work in Ohio and beyond. During this funding cycle, applications in the categories of choreography, criticism, fiction/nonfiction, music composition, playwriting, and poetry were accepted with awards announced in late February. Each award is $5,000.
Graff is working on a second novel currently under contract with Ecco-HarperCollins.
“When I finished writing Raft of Stars, a novel focusing on two boys on the run through the Northwoods of Wisconsin, I knew I wanted to write more about that space,” he said. “This new novel is set in the same world of 1990s Wisconsin as my last book, a family drama focusing on a struggling, young, married couple who take over an eccentric uncle’s failing whitewater rafting company. The couple – young children and camper in tow – have one summer amidst whitewater rivers and Northwoods campgrounds to save the outfitter and their family.
“To have the support of both Wittenberg and the OAC is so critical to me,” he continued. “The support and space of both offer the stability and freedom to keep writing these novels. I am humbled and so very grateful.”
Graff is the latest among Wittenberg faculty who have won OAC awards, including Professor Emeritus of English Kent Dixon, Professor Emerita of English Mimi Dixon, the late Professor Emerita of English Imogene Bolls, and former Adjunct Instructor of English Jody Rambo.
To learn more about Graff and Raft of Stars, click here.