Thomas Wolfe Memorial announces literary award semifinalists

UNCONVENTIONAL SOURCES: Authors' works, including letters written by Thomas Wolfe, featured, were used as source material for historian Travis Sutton Byrd. Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville


The Western North Carolina Historical Association announces the selection of semifinalists for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, which comes with a prize of $1500.  This year’s ten semifinalists were chosen from an original group of twenty-six nominations.  The semifinalists encompass a broad range of genres including novels, poetry, history, and memoirs.  The semifinalists are:

Ken Abbott and Rob Neufeld Useful Work
Phil Jamison Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics
Randy Johnson  Grandfather Mountain
Alli Marshall How to Talk to Rockstars
Cindy McMahon Fresh Water From Old Wells
Robert Morgan Chasing the North Star  
Robert Morgan Dark Energy
Steven Nash  Reconstruction’s Ragged Edge
Ron Rash  Above the Waterfall
Terry Roberts  That Bright Land  

Originated by the Louis Lipinsky family and now also supported by Michael Sartisky, PhD and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Board, the Award has been presented annually for printed works that focus special attention on Western North Carolina since 1955.  In order to more broadly support the writers of Western North Carolina, this is the third year that semifinalists, and later finalists, will be announced in addition to the Award winner.

To be considered, an entry had to be a first-edition work of fiction published in the calendar year 2015 or between January 1 and May 31, 2016.  The committee considers works of nonfiction, drama, or poetry from authors native to the Western North Carolina region or a resident of Western North Carolina for at least twelve months prior to the closing date for the Award. In addition, the committee considers works when the focus or setting is Western North Carolina.

The Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) presented the first Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award to Wilma Dykeman in 1955 for The French Broad. Last year the winner was Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr for their book Wayfaring Stranger: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia.  Other authors who have received the award include Robert Morgan, John Paris, Gail Godwin, John Ehle, Charles Frazier, Robert Brunk, Michael McFee, Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Wiley Cash, and Wayne Caldwell.

The Award Panel consists of Michael Sartisky, PhD, Chair, President Emeritus of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities; Richard Graham, PhD, Immediate Past President, WNCHA; Jim Stokely, Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee; Dan Pierce, PhD, chair, Department of History, UNCA; Gwin Jones, Past Chair WNCHA; Tom Muir, Director, Thomas Wolfe Memorial; Ellen Carr, Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee; and Mimi Fenton, PhD, Immediate Past Dean of the Graduate School, Western Carolina University.

The mission of the Western North Carolina Historical Association 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 Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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