Western North Carolina Historical Association announces five finalists for the 2022 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award

Press release from Osher Lifelong Learning Institute from UNC Asheville

The Western North Carolina Historical Association announces the selection of five finalists for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. Originated by the Louis Lipinsky family, the Award has been presented annually by the Western North Carolina Historical Association since 1955 for printed works that focus special attention on Western North Carolina. In order to more broadly support the writers of Western North Carolina, a December 13, 2022 award ceremony will celebrate all five finalists.

To be considered, an entry must be a published work of fiction, nonfiction, drama or poetry and meet the following criteria:

  1. It must be a first edition work; revised editions of published works will not be considered.
  2. The publication date must be in the calendar year 2021 or no later than July 15, 2022.
  3. The author must be a native of western North Carolina or a resident of western NC for at least 12 months prior to the closing date for the Award.
  4. An author may also qualify if the work submitted has a focus on or setting in western NC.

The WNC Historical Association presented the first Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award to Wilma Dykeman in 1955 for The French Broad. Last year’s winner was Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle for her novel, Even As We Breathe. Other authors who have received the award include Charles Frazier, 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.

A prize of $2,500.00 accompanies the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and will be virtually presented to one of the five recognized authors on Tuesday, December 13 at 5:00pm during an in-person event at UNC-Asheville’s Reuter Center that will include readings by the finalists. The event will also be live-streamed via Zoom for those who cannot attend in person. Please reserve this date.

The Award Panel this year consists of: Catherine Frank, Chair, Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville; James Bradley, Secretary of Education for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; Wayne Caldwell, author and former Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award winner; Dee James, professor emeritus, UNC-Asheville; Leslee Johnson, English department, UNC-Asheville; Jasmin Morrell, writer and co-editor of The Porch magazine; Tom Muir, Historic Site Manager, Thomas Wolfe Memorial;  Terry Roberts, Director, National Paideia Center; Jim Stokely, President, Wilma Dykeman Legacy.
This year’s finalists were chosen from an original group of over 50 nominations. The finalists, listed below in alphabetical order, encompass a broad range of genres and forms.

Anne Chesky Smith, Murder at Asheville’s Battery Park Hotel: The Search for Helen Clevenger’s Killer
Lance Greene, Their Determination to Remain; A Cherokee Community’s Resistance to the Trail of Tears
Brent Martin, George Masa’s Wild Vision: A Japanese Immigrant Imagines Western North Carolina
Heather Newton, McMullen Circle
John Ross, Through the Mountains: The French Broad River and Time

The Western North Carolina Historical Association is a nonprofit with a mission of promoting and preserving regional history.  For more information, please call WNCHA at 828.253.9231 or visit www.wnchistory.org.

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