The nonfiction award went to David Sheff, for his memoir Beautiful Boy.
Here's what the judges had to say about Phillips' debut novel, which is set in 1930s Alabama:
"The Well and the Mine is an enthralling book, enthralling in the best way, without a whiff of showoffy pyrotechnics or earnest sentimentality. Like Willa Cather's, Phillips' language is deep, clear, strong, and true; and her characters are at once interestingly familiar, human, refreshingly strange, and complex. The novel's structure is deceptively sophisticated '97 the narrative flow is so compelling, it almost obscures the subtle technical skill that went into its making. The Well and the Mine is pure pleasure to read, and achieves the quietest but most rewarding of literary endeavors: a good story, well told. Gin Phillips is truly a great new American writer." '97 Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man
"The characters in The Well and the Mine are both complicated and sweet, but never saccharine or watered down with false naivety. While there's just enough intrigue in the plot to keep you turning the pages, it's the characters -- their voices, their kens '97 that remain after the final page is turned. Phillips artfully engages wit the traditions of Southern literature but somehow remains fresh and original. A brilliant and memorable novel." '97 Mark Jude Poirier, novelist and screenwriter of Smart People
"I find it impossible to believe that The Well and the Mine is a debut novel. It's absolutely flawless: a beautiful Depression-era story told without irony. I reveled in its shades of Harper Lee and Faulkner. Timeless, captivating, honest, brave '97 and not one false move. It changed me." '97 Suzanne Finnamore, author of Otherwise Engaged and Split