Finalists announced for Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award

Press release from the WNC Historical Association:

The Western North Carolina Historical Association has announced the five finalists for this year’s Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, an annual recognition of distinction for qualifying works of fiction, nonfiction, drama or poetry.

The five finalists, chosen from 21 nominations, are

  • Robert Beatty, “Willa of the Wood,” a Serafina series thriller about an orphan in the Great Smoky Mountains set in 1900
  • George Ellison and Janet McCue, “Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography,” about an early national park advocate
  • David Joy, “The Line That Held Us,” a novel about a Blue Ridge Mountains murder cover-up
  • Meredith McCarroll, “Unwhite: Appalachia, Race and Film,” an examination of the region and depiction of residents in movies
  • Terry Roberts, “The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival,” a novel about a traveling preacher in the mountains during Prohibition

A banquet and awards ceremony with readings from finalists will be held Saturday, Nov.16, from 4-6 p.m. at the Asheville Renaissance Hotel.

The first award in 1955 was given to Wilma Dykeman for her landmark “The French Broad.” Last year’s winner was bestselling author Charles Frazier for his historical novel “Varina” about the Confederate first lady. Others who have received the award over the years include such notables as Robert Morgan, John Parris, Gail Godwin, John Ehle, Robert Brunk, Michael McFee, Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Wiley Cash, Wayne Caldwell, Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr.

The 2019 award panel is comprised of Brandon J. Johnson of Mars Hill University; Ellen Carr of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee; Pamela Duncan, associate professor of English at Western Carolina University; Gwin Jones, past chair WNC Historical Association; Leslee N. Johnson, English Department, UNC-Asheville; Gordon McKinney, former president of the Appalachian Studies Association; Tom Muir, historic site manager of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial; and Jim Stokely, president of the Wilma Dykeman Legacy.

The WNC Historical Association is a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote and preserve regional history, recognize significant contributors and broaden cultural awareness. For more information, call WNCHA at 828-253-9231 or visit

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