Sixteenth Author Selected as Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence Recipient

The Associates of the Boston Public Library Announces 2019-2020 Writer-in-Residence Boston Resident Shawnna Thomas

BOSTON - The Associates of the Boston Public Library is pleased to announce Shawnna Thomas has been selected as Writer-in-Residence for 2019-2020.

Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Thomas received her B.A. in English and African American Studies from Yale University in 2015. She is a previous recipient of the Elmore A. Willetts Prize for Fiction, the Second Place Wallace Prize for Fiction, and the GrubStreet Emerging Writer Fellowship.

Thomas was selected by a panel of judges—including authors, editors, a literary agent, bookseller, professor of children’s literature and librarians—in a blind judging process, based on the strength of her proposed young adult novel, Salvagers.

"In an unusually strong field this year,” praised panelist Betsy Groban, “Salvagers impressed us with its self-assured command of language, realistic/sympathetic portrayal of mental illness, and for being something refreshingly new in dystopian fiction.”

Set three years after a Great Flood destabilizes the Divided States, the story follows teen survivors Onyx and Andre as they reluctantly team up to rescue their siblings from a high-security, government-funded orphanage.

“Onyx's story started as an exercise and grew from a reflection on who gets to tell and read stories about girls like her.” said Thomas of her selection. “Learning that someone believes in and cares about her story enough to give me the support, funding, and room of my own to fully realize it sent my soul soaring. I am eternally grateful to the Associates of the Boston Public Library for this opportunity and cannot wait to share more of her journey.”

Now entering its 16th year, the Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence fellowship promotes the importance of writers, books, and reading in our culture. The fellowship provides an emerging author with the financial support and space needed to complete one literary work for children or young adults within a nine-month period. One of the most financially generous programs of its kind in the United States, the winner receives a $20,000 stipend and the use of a private office in the Boston Public Library’s Central Library.

Ms. Thomas’ residency will be formally inaugurated with a reading and reception at the Boston Public Library on October 16th at 6:30 PM. Visit to register for the free reception or for more information about the residency and program alumni.


The Associates of the Boston Public Library is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the Boston Public Library’s Special Collections of rare books, manuscripts, prints, photographs, music and other items of literary, historic and cultural significance. The Associates works to ensure continued public access to these irreplaceable treasures by underwriting their conservation, cataloging, digitization, and exhibition. Through these efforts, the Associates helps the Boston Public Library to achieve its fundamental mission of providing the highest level of free educational resources to the citizens of the Commonwealth, as well as preserving knowledge, culture, and history for the benefit of all.

Since its founding in 1972, the Associates has been the creator and underwriter of programs designed to heighten public awareness of the Boston Public Library’s vast free, educational resources. These programs have included Literary Lights; a Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award competition; the Pierce Performance Series; art and architecture tours; readings; lectures; curatorial evenings designed to enhance public awareness of the Library’s holdings; exhibitions; musical performances; and discussions of current events featuring key decision makers. To learn more about the Associates, please visit,, or