CHEROKEE, NC, June 3, 2014 – Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Executive Director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation in Cherokee, North Carolina, is a finalist for the 2014 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. The award was established in 2000 by Barbara Kingsolver and is funded entirely by her. Clapsaddle is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and graduated from Yale University and the College of William and Mary.
Clapsaddle’s novel, Going to Water, resurrects 1920s-40s Chicago, Illinois and Cherokee, North Carolina as the setting for the fictional account of the enormously ambitious Cherokee man, Osley Sololoneet, and the vibrant characters who fill his world. Born and raised on the Qualla Boundary, in rural western North Carolina, Osley recognizes that he yearns for more than the safety of the Great Smoky Mountains. He comes to believe that “the only true death is a static existence.”
Osley, a character inspired by the erratic legacy of the author’s grandfather, simultaneously undertakes careers in professional wrestling, tribal government, and souvenir peddling, finding that they are all inextricably linked in the world of love, politics, and identity. Laced with humor, Going to Water explores the hazy borders fusing self-preservation, familial love, and tribal citizenship.
The 2014 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction is presented biennially to the author of a previously unpublished novel of high literary caliber that promotes fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. This is the second year in which PEN is administering this award.
The winner, chosen by judges Terry McMillan, Nancy Pearl, and Kathy Pories, will be announced later this summer and will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City on September 29th. The $25,000 prize includes a book contract with Algonquin Books.