Alumnus George Salis Receives Inaugural Tom La Farge Award for Innovative Writing

George Salis ’15, an English and Psychology major, began winning awards for writing as a senior at Stetson.

George Salis ’15 is the recipient of the first Tom La Farge Award for Innovative Writing, along with its $10,000 prize. 

The award was established to celebrate authors and artists who push the boundaries of traditional storytelling and embrace innovative techniques, forging new paths in the literary world. Named after the imaginative writer Tom La Farge, the award aims to recognize and honor those who display exceptional creativity, imagination and originality in their work. 

Salis, an accomplished author and visionary, continues to push the boundaries of conventional literature — first with his debut novel, “Sea Above, Sun Below,” and soon with his almost-finished second novel, “Morphological Echoes,” nearly a decade in the making.

At a young age, Salis has already captured the attention of readers and critics alike. His ability to blend genres, experiment with narrative structures, and delve into the depths of imagination has earned him a dedicated following in the literary community. National Book Award-nominee Alexander Theroux commented, “I love the boldness of Salis’ characters, his wit and the dash of his writing. There is electricity on every page. …”

Salis’ winning submission, a chapter from Morphological Echoes titled “In Communion with the Invisible Flock,” stood out among a highly competitive pool of entries. The work encapsulates Salis’ style, seamlessly weaving together intricate plotlines, evocative prose and thought-provoking themes. Through his storytelling, Salis challenges readers to reconsider their perceptions of reality, engaging them in a profound exploration of the human condition.

Salis’ debut novel was “Sea Above, Sun Below.”

“Receiving the inaugural Tom La Farge Award for Innovative Writing is a tremendous honor,” said Salis. “I’m deeply grateful for the recognition and encouragement this award provides, and I’m inspired to continue pushing the boundaries of creative expression.”

The $10,000 award prize money will fund the next phase of Salis’ literary career — in Greece conducting extensive research for his third novel, tentatively titled “Silence of the Sirens.”

“It’s my dream to write a novel that encompasses the world of Greece in a way akin to what Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ did for his ancestral country of India,” Salis noted. “The novel will feature a character based on my late grandfather, Yannis the fisherman, who passed away in 2017. My papou became known for his original art pieces made from cut and dyed pieces of silkworm cocoons, fashioning a plethora of flora and even a silkworm cocoon version of ‘The Last Supper.’”

The Tom La Farge Award committee was unanimously captivated by Salis’ ability to transport readers to new realms of imagination and his fearless experimentation with language and form. As such, Salis’ work exemplifies the spirit of the award, embodying the essence that Tom La Farge himself championed throughout his career.

While at Stetson, Salis studied English and Psychology. He swept up several writing awards during his senior year, winning the Josephine F. Davidson Award for Integrity in Journalism, the Sullivan Award for Fiction from the English Department and the Ann Morris Prize for Fiction from the Gender Studies Department.