Raul Palma, an assistant professor in the Department of Writing and secretary of the Faculty Council Executive Committee, has won Indiana Review’s 2021 Don Belton Prize for his short story collection titled This World of Ultraviolet Light. It will be published by Indiana Review Press in 2022. The prize was established in honor of the memory of Don Belton, who died in 2009 and is the author of a number of works, including the novel Almost Midnight.
This World of Ultraviolet Light is about Cuban-Americans and their tension, conflicts, and complications. Palma’s inspiration largely came from his own life growing up in Miami and watching the spaces he occupied grow smaller and more confined. He describes how “a lot of these stories take aim at how public spaces in Florida are hard to come by; it cleaves open a space through imagination and play.”
Guest judge and writer Anjali Sachdeva describes Palma’s writing as “nuanced, charged, filled with turns so artfully constructed you can only surrender to each story and let it take you where it wants to go.”
Palma thanks colleagues Eleanor Henderson, Jacob White, Jack Wang, and James Miranda for supporting him in creating this collection. He also notes that the chance to work with students and the greater IC community has also nourished his writing. “The beauty of working with students is to read their writing and see them take risks,” he said. “It’s inspiring.”
In Ultraviolet Light, Palma has taken literary risks of his own. “He’s one of the most daring writers I know,” Henderson says. “To put years into revisions of a single story is to risk time, and the possibility that the readers just won’t be there. So to know that this book has found such an enthusiastic audience is really something to celebrate.”
Palma’s stories have been published previously in literary magazines including Alaska Quarterly Review, Chattahoochee Review, The Greensboro Review, Smokelong Quarterly, and The Sonora Review. He is currently working on a novel called A Haunting in Hialeah Gardens. In addition to writing, teaching, and advising, he is the supervisor for Stillwater Magazine. He is in his fifth year at IC.
Read more about his collection and achievement here.