Nominations being accepted for the 2021 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award

Press release via Western North Carolina Historical Association

The Western North Carolina Historical Association is now accepting nominations for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. Originated by the Louis Lipinsky family and now supported by Michael Sartisky, PhD, the award is a partnership between WNCHA and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee. It has been presented by WNCHA since 1955. The award comes with a $2,500 cash prize.

The deadline for submission of nominated works is July 31, 2021. Anyone with knowledge of an author who meets the qualification criteria may nominate the author for the award. To be considered, an entry must be a published work of fiction, nonfiction, drama or poetry and meet the following criteria:

  • It must be a first edition work; revised editions of published works will not be considered for the award.
  • The publication date must be between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021.
  • The author must be a native of western North Carolina or a resident of western North Carolina for at least 12 months prior to the closing date for the award.

An author may also qualify if the work submitted has a focus on or setting in western North Carolina.

Western North Carolina includes the Qualla Boundary and the following 25 counties: Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey.

The Award Panel this year consists of: Catherine Frank, chair and director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville; Dee James, retired director of the First-Year Writing Program at UNC Asheville; Tom Muir, historic site manager, Thomas Wolfe Memorial; Gordon McKinney, PhD, former president, Appalachian Studies Association; Terry Roberts, PhD, director of National Paideia Center; and Jim Stokely, president of Wilma Dykeman Legacy.

Nomination letters must specify the following eligibility criteria:

  • date of publication
  • birthplace or residence of author
  • setting of work

Nominators should submit a cover letter along with three copies of the work postmarked no later than July 31, 2021 to:

Wolfe Award Committee
℅ Anne Chesky Smith
WNC Historical Association
283 Victoria Road
Asheville, NC  28801

An awards ceremony and reception, in honor of the finalists and 2021 award recipient, will be held in early December 2021.

The Association presented the first Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award to Wilma Dykeman in 1955 for “The French Broad.” The award has continued to be funded, in part, by Mrs. E. Frank Edwin, a member of the Lipinsky family and for the last three years by WNCHA, and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Board, both with support from Michael Sartisky, PhD. Other recipients of this prestigious Award include Robert Morgan, Gail Godwin, John Ehle, Robert Brunk, Michael McFee, Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Wayne Caldwell, and Terry Roberts. Sandra Muse Isaacs was the recipient of the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award for her book “Eastern Cherokee Stories: A Living Oral Tradition and Its Cultural Continuance.”

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