Terry Roberts wins Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award

Press release from Western North Carolina Historical Association:

Terry Roberts, PhD, has been selected as the Western North Carolina Historical Association’s recipient of the 61st Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award for his novel, That Bright Land.

In making the award the Selection Panel noted: “We believe this is a novel that meets the high standards of the Wolfe Award. Set during the period of Reconstruction in Western North Carolina and engaging with complex and difficult issues, it is elegantly written with strong, interesting characters. The Panel especially noted his sympathetic and compelling portrayal of women characters. Dr. Roberts also capitalized effectively on his own intimate knowledge of the region of his own heritage.”

A prize of $1,500 accompanies the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and will be presented to the author Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Renaissance Hotel. The event, followed by a reception, is slated for 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel (31 Woodfin St, Asheville), located directly across the street from Wolfe’s Old Kentucky Home. The award reception is generously being sponsored by the Renaissance Hotel. Event tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for WNC Historical Association (WNCHA) members. Tickets may be reserved by calling 828-253-9231.

In addition to the recognition of Dr. Roberts, for only the third time in 61 years, in order to more broadly support the writers of Western North Carolina the other four finalists for the award have also been invited to attend the event and read a brief excerpt from their work. The finalists were chosen from an original group of twenty-six nominations, and are as follows:

• Phil Jamison: Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics;
• Randy Johnson: Grandfather Mountain;
• Robert Morgan: Dark Energy;
• Ron Rash: Above the Waterfall.
• Both Robert Morgan and Ron Rash are former winners of the Wolfe Award.

Originated by the Louis Lipinsky family and now supported by Michael Sartisky, PhD and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Board, the Award has been presented annually since 1955 for printed works that focus special attention on Western North Carolina.

To be considered, an entry had to be a published work of fiction, nonfiction, drama, or poetry. It had to be a first edition work. The publication date of the published work to be considered had to be between January 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016 and the author had to be a native of the Western North Carolina region or a resident of WNC for at least twelve months prior to the closing date for the Award. If the author does not qualify as a native or resident, the focus or setting of the work must be Western North Carolina. Western North Carolina includes the Qualla Boundary and the westernmost 25 counties.

WNCHA and the Lipinsky family of Asheville presented the first Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award to Wilma Dykeman in 1955 for The French Broad. The 2015 winner was Dr. Doug Orr and Fiona Ritchie’s book, Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia. Other authors who have received the award include Robert Morgan, John Parris, Gail Godwin, John Ehle, Charles Frazier, Robert Brunk, Michael McFee, Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Wiley Cash, and Wayne Caldwell.

The Award Panel this year consists of Michael Sartisky, PhD, Chair, President Emeritus of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities; Richard Graham, PhD, Immediate President, WNCHA; Jim Stokely, board member, Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee; Dan Pierce, PhD, Immediate Past Chair, UNCA Department of History; Gwin Jones, Past Chair WNCHA; Tom Muir, Director, Thomas Wolfe Memorial; Mimi Fenton, PhD, Immediate past Dean of the Graduate School, WCU; Ellen Carr, board member, Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee; and Carl Bredahl, PhD, former Professor of English at the University of Florida.

The Western North Carolina Historical Association is a nonprofit organization whose mission is the preservation and promotion of the history of Western North Carolina through the care, interpretation, and presentation of the Smith-McDowell House, the education of the public through lectures, exhibitions, publications, and related events; and the facilitation of cooperation among regional historical organizations.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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