MDC’s Miami Book Fair Presents the Miami Book Fair/de Groot Prize Winners

Miami, Feb. 3, 2020 – Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Miami Book Fair, in partnership with the de Groot Foundation, has announced the winner, Ellen Michaelson and the two finalists, Holly Takashima and Kristen Simental, for the Miami Book Fair/de Groot Prize for the Novella.

Michaelson will receive a $6,000 cash award, publication of her novella, From the Love of Strangers, by prominent independent publisher Melville House, an all expense-paid trip to the 2020 Miami Book Fair, and a chance to read and participate in programs at the 2020 annual Miami Book Fair.

“We are delighted to be part of such a worthy endeavor, finding new stories and helping their writers share them with others through the publication of a book is special work,” said Lissette Mendez, programs director of the Miami Book Fair.

From the Love of Strangers is about identity and finding your place in the world. Set in Brooklyn, NY in 1982, it’s a story about friendship and vulnerability told from the point of view of a hospital orderly who aspires to be more. It was chosen by author Justin Torres, who judged the entries.

Michaelson is a physician in Portland, Oregon, and holds an MFA from Pacific University. Her lyric essay, “Piano Lessons,” was published in Creative Nonfiction, as a runner-up in their Spring 2017 contest. Other essays have appeared in Portland Monthly, Women in Solitude, and Literature in Medicine. She has attended Breadloaf and received scholarships to the Summer Literary Seminar and Writers in Paradise.

“I am so honored to be chosen for the deGroot Prize,” said Michaelson. “It’s a life changing moment as a writer to be so recognized. And such a thrill to have cut 6,500 words from a novel and reshaped it into a novella that has found a home in the literary world.”

Takashima won as a finalist for The Meaning of Words, a novella about growing up and coming into your own consciousness, and about how sometimes, it takes silence and solitude to return to the world.

“I am absolutely delighted,” said Takashima. “It still feels unreal that a story that had existed only in my head for so long now exists outside of it, and it has been shared with others. It was such a big surprise, and I am so excited and grateful to have the opportunity to read at the Miami Book Fair.”

Simental won for Why, Arizona, a story about a girl, an RV, a tortured ex, a small town on the edge of nowhere, and the end of the world.

“I am thrilled and honored to be recognized by the fabulous Miami Book Fair and the lovely de Groots,” added Simental. “This is an actual dream come true and I can’t wait to meet everyone at the Fair!”

Takashima and Simental will each receive $3,000, an expense-paid trip to the 2020 Miami Book Fair, and a chance to read/participate in programs at the at the 2020 annual Miami Book Fair.

“It’s part of the mission of the Miami Book Fair to support writers to help them continue to create new works,” said Delia Lopez, director of operations, Miami Book Fair. “These partnerships with the de Groot Foundation and Melville House publisher make sure we are fulfilling our pledge. We are very grateful to have them on our side.”

The de Groot Foundation has a proud history of supporting the novella – a work of fiction 17,000-40,000 words – first, through the Paris Literary Prize in partnership with Shakespeare in Company in Paris, and now through the Miami Book Fair/de Groot prize for the Novella. The Foundation focuses on innovation, education and culture, with particular interest in the visual and literary arts. For more information, please visit

About Miami Book Fair

Founded in 1984 by Miami Dade College and partners, Miami Book Fair engages the community through inclusive, accessible programs that promote reading and support writers year-round. The annual eight-day festival has grown into the largest and most comprehensive community-rooted literary gathering in the United States. The Fair features readings and discussions with the world’s most renowned authors, generating discourse on contemporary literature and current issues of international importance. The Fair also include culinary presentations; live music and interdisciplinary performances; interactive, educational activities for children; and more than 200 booksellers and publishers during the Street Fair. Events take place in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole and French. In addition to the annual festival, the Miami Book Fair responds to community needs with a year-round schedule of activities, including The Little Haiti Book Festival, highlighting Haiti’s literary acumen; creative writing and publishing workshops; author presentations; reading campaigns; and Read to Learn Books for Free, a partnership with The Children’s Trust that distributes more than 150,000 free books a year to children in Miami-Dade County.

Miami Book Fair is made possible through the generous support of the State of Florida and the National Endowment for the Arts; the City of Miami; Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; Miami-Dade County Public Schools; the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Miami Downtown Development Authority; and the Friends of the Fair; as well as many corporate partners. Miami Book Fair: Building community, one reader at a time.

For more information on the MBF/de Groot prize, and for Miami Book Fair updates, please visit, call 305-237-3528 or email

For Miami Book Fair updates, please visit, call 305-237-3528 or email

Find Miami Book Fair at:

#MiamiReads, #MiamiBookFair2018

Miami Book Fair contact: Lisa Palley, 305-642-3132