Hannah Weyer Wins 12th Annual Danahy Fiction Prize

Hannah Weyer, of Brooklyn, New York, has won the 12th Danahy Fiction Prize

Published: Jul 19, 2018

Hannah Weyer

Hannah Weyer, a writer and filmmaker from Brooklyn, N.Y., is the winner of the twelfth annual Danahy Fiction Prize, judged by the editors of Tampa Review. She receives a cash award of $1,000, and her winning short story, “Sanctuary City,” will be published in the forthcoming Fall/Winter issue of Tampa Review.

Weyer's debut novel, On the Come Up, received a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers award in 2013 and was an NAACP Image Award Finalist for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author.

She has also written, directed, and produced narrative and documentary films screened at MoMA, Sundance, the New York Film Festival, and others around the world. Her films have won numerous recognitions, including awards from Sundance, Doubletake Documentary, and South by Southwest Film Festivals. Her documentaries have aired on PBS as part of the POV-American Documentary series and her screenwriting credits include work that premiered on HBO, including Life Support, starring Queen Latifah.

“The idea for ‘Sanctuary City’ came to me after a subway commute and an overheard conversation—three boys on a train discussing a violent altercation,” Weyer says. “Around this same time, a family friend had been in a schoolyard fight, which was recorded, then posted on YouTube.”

“As a subway rider,” Weyer explains, “I am constantly reminded to be vigilant in the face of unforeseen dangers relating to global terror, a reminder that brings with it a certain level of helplessness and fear. I began to think about the connection between helplessness caused by imagined scenarios of future violence with the helplessness and fear caused by day-to-day, street-level violence. Can helplessness be transformed into something else? If so, how?”

Tampa Review judges praised Weyer for portraying complex and fully realized characters as they struggle not only with violence, but with their own generational and cultural gaps.

“Weyer’s story is perceptive and timely,” said Tampa Review editor Richard Mathews. “The central character, Esme, is an honest, hard-working immigrant who finds she is under assault—her family and her values are being literally and figuratively ‘gunned down.’ It leaves a reader troubled by uncertainy and wrestling with injustice, but also deeply filled with greater empathy.”

Weyer offers insights informed by close observation and experience. An advocate for youth, she has volunteered in New York at The Door, Scenarios USA, and Reel Works where she works with teens in the media arts. She also teaches screenwriting at Columbia University.

“She vividly describes the New York settings, the subway scene, and the challenging situations that the young people confront—one in high school; one as a junior college dropout,” Mathews says. “She has a cinematic eye for detail and a fantastic ear for dialog.”