Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Meet the Winners of the 2006 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction
Anne Panning is an associate professor of English at the State University of New York-Brockport. A native of Minnesota, Panning once served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines. Her first short-story collection, The Price of Eggs, was published in 1992. Her creative nonfiction and short stories have appeared in such publications as the Beloit Fiction Journal, Prairie Schooner, South Dakota Review, Black Warrior Review, and In Short II: An Anthology of Brief Creative Nonfiction. Panning’s essay “Trailer Court: Rolling” won the Passages North Thomas Hruska Nonfiction Prize. Her other honors include the Bellingham Review’s Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction, the New Letters Literary Award (First Place, Fiction), and the Hackney Literary Award, which is awarded for an unpublished novel.
Peter LaSalle grew up in Rhode Island, graduated from Harvard, and has taught at universities in this country and in France. He is the author of two previous story collections, The Graves of Famous Writers and Hockey Sur Glace, and a novel, Strange Sunlight. He has contributed fiction to many magazines and anthologies, including Paris Review, AGNI, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, Best of the West, Sports Best Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. He is also active as an essay writer and book critic, having contributed to The Nation, The Progressive, The New Republic, Commonweal, Raritan, and AGNI. In 2005 he received the Award for Distinguished Prose from the Antioch Review. For a dozen years LaSalle was a regular visiting faculty member at the Harvard University Summer School, and is Susan Taylor McDaniel Regents Professor in Creative Writing at University of Texas at Austin.
Margot Singer's fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals, including The Sun, AGNI, North American Review, Western Humanities Review, Third Coast, and Ascent. She won Shenandoah’s Thomas H. Carter Prize for the Essay, was a finalist for the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. Singer earned a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Utah, and currently lives in Granville, Ohio, where she is an assistant professor of English at Denison University.
The Flannery O’Connor Award recognizes today's best short fiction writing. The first prize-winning book was published in 1983 to critical acclaim, and the award has since become an important proving ground for new writers. The series has been called “one of the most prestigious series in university press publishing," by NPR critic Alan Cheuse. The winners are selected through an annual competition. Previous award-winning collections include Antonya Nelson’s The Expendables, Ha Jin’s Under the Red Flag, and Gina Ochsner’s The Necessary Grace to Fall.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Outrage, wonder, enlightenment: you'll feel that and more as you read this listing of the year's fifty best singles by music critic Frank Kogan, author of REAL PUNKS DON"T WEAR BLACK.
The Times Daily, which covers Northwest Alabama has just reviewed our history of Mobile's "iron lace" architecture, AN ORNAMENT TO THE CITY.
Recent coverage of Greg Downs's SPIT BATHS:
Small Spiral Notebook
Follow-up to our November 29 posting about Sacred Harp music: the producers of the documentary Awake, My Soul report that an another air date has been added: January 14 at 7 p.m. Also, the timing could not have been better for this review of our book THE SACRED HARP to appear on BookPleasures.com. The reviewer, Kathryn Atwood, is part of the duo History Singers.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The Soul-Filling Sound of Sacred Harp Music
Sacred Harp singers are very knowledgeable about the history and traditions of their music, and the web has many good sites on this distinctly American musical form. Poke around for just a little while and you'll notice the names Buell E. Cobb Jr. and John Bealle appearing repeatedly in resource listings about shape-note music. Cobb is the author of THE SACRED HARP: A TRADITION AND ITS MUSIC and Beall is the author of PUBLIC WORSHIP, PRIVATE FAITH: SACRED HARP AND AMERICAN FOLKSONG.
Praised by American Music as a "thoroughly researched 'inside' view," Buell Cobb's book is an ideal introduction to Sacred Harp singing. John Bealle asks why one particular hymnal, The Sacred Harp, first published in 1844, has outlived so many other shape-note song collections. To help explain the songbook's enduring popularity, Bealle studies it in the context of a century and a half of American musical history. As the Alabama Review wrote, PUBLIC WORSHIP, PRIVATE FAITH "brims with insights on a variety of topics."
Awake, My Soul producer Matt Hinton was interviewed on the 11/10/06 editon of Georgia Gazette by host Rickey Bevington. Listen to it on the web. Interview begins at 14:33 into the show.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia's article on Sacred Harp singing.
Great photos of contemporary shape-note singing on the Flickr Fasola pool.
A Sacred Harp FAQ.
Some shape-note lyrics understandably have become a bit archaic or obscure over time. Here's a lexical companion that sheds light on words, phrases, and references in a number of songs.
Top left: Poster for the documentary Awake, My Soul.
Top right: Cover of John Bealle's PUBLIC WORSHIP, PRIVATE FAITH.
Bottom left: Cover of Buell E. Cobb Jr's THE SACRED HARP.
Bottom right: Some lines of music showing distinctive "shape notes": triangle (fa), a circle (sol), a rectangle (la), and a diamond (mi). Courtesy of Atlanta Sacred Harp Singers.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Philadelphia Weekly has interviewed Greg Downs, author of SPIT BATHS: "A childhood split among central Kentucky, Nashville, and Hawaii gave Downs a rare sense of how location and history shape people. His characters devour biographies, attend politicians' funerals, chaperone field trips, latch onto outmoded street names, unearth secrets about dead presidents and watch chain stores gobble up small towns." Here's another interview with Greg at LitPark, and a profile at Nashville Scene. All Greg, all the time, at MySpace.
Which is more rare: A great album or a great review of an album? Frank Kogan, author of REAL PUNKS DON'T WEAR BLACK, has the answer in this Blogcritics interview.
Our bloggin' authors: Meet "Madam Mayo," better known to us as C. M. Mayo, author of SKY OVER EL NIDO. When she's not bloggificationizing, Mayo writes and edits and champions literature in translation.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Mother of the "Daughter of the Confederacy"
Novelist Julia Oliver has been spending a lot of time in bookstores signing her new novel DEVOTION. It's about Winnie Davis and her deep ambivalence over the celebrity that surrounded her as the "Daughter of the Confederacy." It had to be difficult being a child of someone as controversial as Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. Imagine, on top of that, being anointed by an adoring public as keeper of the flame for the Lost Cause.
Not long after Oliver hit the road to promote Devotion, another book about the Davis family women began showing up on store shelves: First Lady of the Confederacy by historian Joan E. Cashin. A biography, it focuses on Varina Davis, Winnie's mother. Here again the theme of ambivalence arises: over the war, celebrity, and the price of loyalty (or devotion, as Oliver puts it).
Praise for Julia Oliver's Devotion:
"A sharp, endearing account . . . Oliver's sure hand is evident on every page of this slim, lyrical novel"--Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Recommended . . . Will appeal to those who like their historical fiction served up in the style of the day."--Library Journal
"This well-researched novel offers much detail of the era and profiles of historic personages that include Joseph Pulitzer."--Kirkus Reviews
"An extraordinary, compelling tour de force: wise, hard-nosed, and not the least bejasmined or fraught with Confederate or Victorian nostalgia."--First Draft
"An elegant, poetic, and deeply moving tribute to the Davis family, and especially to the long-neglected women of that tragic clan. Anyone who loves the story of the South owes her a gesture of thanks."--Howard Bahr, author of The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War
Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, and a pivotal setting in Devotion, was badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina.
Much more information about the Davis family can be found at the Papers of Jefferson Davis project.
Top left: Jacket of Julia Oliver's novel Devotion
Bottom left: Portrait of Varina Davis, 1849
Right: Portrait of Winnie Davis on a postcard lauding her as the "Daughter of the Confederacy"
Friday, September 22, 2006
What's That Black Guy Doing in a Film about World War I Aviators?
Eventually someone will join the discussion to point out that there really was such a person: EUGENE BULLARD. Although Bullard is a national hero in France, he is still a relative unknown in his native United States. Perhaps "Flyboys" will help to change that.
Craig Lloyd, author of the definitive Bullard biography, says, "from what I've seen, they're trying to give Bullard his due in this movie. I think that's for the good." Abdul Salis, who plays the Bullard character in "Flyboys," read the biography while preparing for the part. The biography's film rights have been optioned; perhaps one day there will be a movie just about Bullard. In an interview with Salis, the actor muses on what it was like to play Bullard in "Flyboys," whether Bullard deserves his own film (yes), and whether he'd like to (re)play Bullard in it.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia's article on Eugene Bullard.
A tribute to Bullard on an Air Force site, with some great historical images.
Black Wings, from the National Air and Space Museum, places Bullard among other pioneering African American aviators.
Top left: Movie poster for "Flyboys."
Top right: Still from "Flyboys" showing the Eugene Bullard character played by Abdul Salis.
Bottom left: The real Eugene Bullard in his aviator uniform.
Bottom right: Book cover of Eugene Bullard: Black Expatriate in Jazz-Age Paris.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
That's a snapshot of the current storm situation. For the long view, a good place to begin is LOWCOUNTRY HURRICANES, the brand new history of hurricanes and tropical storms along the Georgia-South Carolina seaboard. Walter J. Fraser Jr. covers more than eighty storms, from 1686 to recent times, telling how these awesome natural forces have affected people and altered the built and natural environment from St. Mary's, Georgia to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
History buffs will appreciate how Fraser uses firsthand accounts to tell his story. Weatherbugs can rest assured that he makes use of data accumulated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service.
Meet Walter J. Fraser Jr.:
E. Shaver Bookseller
Tues., Oct 3, 2006 at 3 p.m.
Charleston County Public Library
Thurs., Oct. 5, 2006 at 7 p.m.
Georgetown County Library
Fri., Oct. 6, 2006 at 12:00 p.m.
Coastal Georgia Historical Society
St. Simons, GA
Thurs., Oct. 19, 2006 at 7 p.m.
NASA's hurricane site includes some beautiful hurricane images taken from the space station and a nicely done printable hurricane fact sheet.
Hurricane preparedness information is available for Georgia and South Carolina, the two states on which LOWCOUNTRY HURRICANES focuses.
Perspective view of Hurricane Hugo on 21 September 1989 at 14:44 EDT by GOES-7 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites), as the hurricane approaches Charleston, South Carolina. Image produced by F. Hasler, K. Palaniappan, M. Manyin, and H. Pierce (NASA/Goddard).
Photo of Walter J. Fraser Jr. by Bob Neumann.
Residents viewing the wreckage along Council Street in Charleston, 1893. Harper's Weekly, September 16, 1893, courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries.
Monday, September 11, 2006
100 Years Later: Remembering the Atlanta Race Riot
The University of Georgia Press has a number of books related to the Riot, its causes, its principal figures, and its important place in American history.
THE LAW OF THE WHITE CIRCLE
A novel by Thornwell Jacobs
Long out of print, this is the only fictional treatment of the Riot ever to be published. This edition includes supplemental readings that promote a deeper understanding of the novel and the actual events it portrays.
An Oral History of the City, 1914-1948
by Clifford M. Kuhn, Harlon E. Joye, and E. Bernard West
Clifford M. Kuhn is one of the principal organizers of the Riot's centennial remembrance. This book includes memories by Atlanta residents, black and white, of the Riot and its lasting effect on the city.
A MAN CALLED WHITE
The Autobiography of Walter White
by Walter White
Includes the author's eyewitness account of the Riot. White's views on race were changed forever by the experience, leading him to take leadership roles in the NAACP.
TO BUILD OUR LIVES TOGETHER
Community Formation in Black Atlanta, 1875-1906
by Allison Dorsey
Tells how black Atlantans pursued their dreams through a network of churches, fraternal organizations, and social clubs--and how these pursuits fueled white apprehensions that came to a head during the Atlanta Race Riot.
An Atlanta Family
by Carole Merritt
The story of a leading black Atlanta family and its business empire. Owned by the Herndons, the Crystal Palace, Atlanta's most opulent barber salon, was ransacked during the Riot.
LUGENIA BURNS HOPE, BLACK SOUTHERN REFORMER
by Jacqueline Anne Rouse
The biography of a prominent black activist with close ties to Morehouse College and an acute understanding of the social forces that collided during the Riot.
Web site of the Coalition to Remember the Atlanta Race Riot
Article on the Atlanta Race Riot in the New Georgia Encyclopedia
Recent coverage of the Riot centennial in the Washington Post
Atlanta Race Riot segment from the PBS documentary series The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
Contact the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site for information on the exhibit Red Was the Midnight
Above illustration of the Atlanta Race Riot from the October 7, 1906 cover of the French magazine Le Petit Journal
Thursday, August 31, 2006
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival, September 1-3, 2006
- Opening reception on September 15 for Perry Dilbeck (author of THE LAST HARVEST) at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
- Centennial of the Atlanta Race Riot, 1906-2006. The Coalition to Remember the Atlanta Race Riot is sponsoring a number of events and initiatives in September.
Reader's guides are now available for TOBACCO ROAD and GOD'S LITTLE ACRE, both by Erskine Caldwell.
Nice feature story on Scott Walker and his book HELL'S BROKE LOOSE IN GEORGIA in the Dallas Morning News.
- THE SPIRIT OF INTERNATIONAL LAW (new paperback edition)
- EL DELI LATINO
- CARIBBEAN AND SOUTHERN
- ZORO'S FIELD (new paperback edition)
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
How New Orleans Got to Be New Orleans
Kent Germany is another Louisiana native and a former New Orleans resident. In NEW ORLEANS AFTER THE PROMISES Germany goes back to the Great Society era of the 1960s and 1970s to offer a detailed look at one of the greatest transformations in the city's history. He tells how a few thousand New Orleanians put their faith in God and American progress to the test as they sought to conquer poverty, confront racism, establish civic order, and expand the economy. At a time when liberalism seemed to be on the wane nationally, says Germany, black and white citizens in New Orleans cautiously partnered with each other and with the federal government to expand liberalism in the South.
Books for Understanding: New Orleans is a listing of authoritative books on the history, culture, and geography of the city.
Books for Understanding: Hurricane Katrina covers the hurricane itself but also includes books on such timely topics as emergency preparedness and disaster relief.
The H-Urban site is a good place to discover the multifaceted histories of our great cities.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Real Snakes on a Real Plane
"I've actually taken a snake on a plane and it would have made a very boring film. In the mid-'90s, well before 9-11 and tightened security, I put a single, small gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer), a harmless species like most U.S. snakes, into my coat pocket and flew to Texas, where I turned it over to a colleague. Not much thrill, academically speaking."
In a recent opinion piece in the Charlotte Observer, snake expert Mike Dorcas says to enjoy Snakes on a Plane--but then get real about the mostly harmless creatures on which the movie's plot hinges. Dorcas is coauthor, with Whit Gibbons, of SNAKES OF THE SOUTHEAST (Dorcas [r] and Gibbons [l] are pictured above).
Dorcas' Charlotte Observer piece goes on to raise some thoughtful questions about our perceptions of nature, especially in light of how many people only brush up against something wild when they see it in a movie. "As a scientist," says Dorcas, "I do find it is sometimes a particular challenge for me to enjoy movies that rely on biologically unlikely scenarios to thrill the audience. But am I planning to go see Snakes on a Plane? Of course I am."
Snakes run amok are nothing new to Dorcas, anyway. "My brother and I accidentally let a rat snake go in my mom's car when we were kids (well, older teens). She found it two weeks later as she was driving--when it stuck it's head out of the air conditioning duct."
SNAKES ON A HIGHER PLANE
There is something almost mystical about our connection to snakes: in how we associate them with nature's elemental forces, how we attribute special qualities to their eyes and skin, and how they preside over all phases of our existence, from creation to death to resurrection. THE SERPENT'S TALE includes some fifty diverse and unusual accounts of snakes from cultures across time and around the globe. Editor Greg McNamee has gathered together writings that range from a prayer in the Egyptian Book of the Dead to a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Suitable for . . . airplane reading?
Friday, August 11, 2006
Perry Dilbeck, whose images of truck farmers are collected in THE LAST HARVEST, will have an exhibition at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta from September 15-October 27, 2006. The opening night reception on September 15 is free and open to the public. The exhibit is part of the annual city-wide event, Atlanta Celebrates Photography.
The current program of the week on the public radio show New Dimensions features a conversation with Thomas Rain Crowe, author of ZORO'S FIELD.
Georgia Humanities Council Funds Speaking Tour Inspired by Book on Modern South
Pascoe is a coeditor, with Karen Trahan Leathem and Andy Ambrose, of THE AMERICAN SOUTH IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. The book, which touches on an engaging diversity of topics including the USDA's crop spraying policies, Tom Wolfe's novel A Man in Full, and collegiate women's soccer, is the driving force behind the "Georgia in the 20th Century" project. A number of contributors to the book are expected to participate in the events.
Craig Pascoe is an associate professor of history at Georgia College and State University
Karen Trahan Leathem is a historian on the staff of the Louisiana State Museum
Andy Ambrose is executive director of the Tubman African American Museum
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Press Is Well Represented at First Annual AJC Decatur Book Festival
- Terry Kay, author of THE YEAR THE LIGHTS CAME ON
- Nathalie Dupree, author of NEW SOUTHERN COOKING and NATHALIE DUPREE'S SOUTHERN MEMORIES
- Roy Blount Jr., author of CRACKERS
- Jack Bass, author of TAMING THE STORM and coauthor of THE TRANSFORMATION OF SOUTHERN POLITICS
- Mark Bixler, author of THE LOST BOYS OF SUDAN
- Catherine Clinton, author of CIVIL WAR STORIES
- Paul Stephen Hudson, authority on Thornwell Jacobs and contributor to the reissued edition of Jacobs' LAW OF THE WHITE CIRCLE
- John Inscoe, coeditor of ENEMIES OF THE COUNTRY and editor of The New Georgia Encyclopedia
Festival organizers are expecting the free Labor Day Weekend event to draw 40,000 visitors. In addition to author readings, book signings, and panel discussions, the festival will feature live music, cooking demonstrations, celebrity appearances, poetry slams, food, and fireworks.
Want to volunteer at the AJC Decatur Book Festival? Email LeAnn Harvey or call her at (678) 553-6548
Catch your breath and then head to the Georgia Literary Festival in Macon on November 3-4
A whole Fall's worth of book festivals
Illustration: screenshot of AJC Decatur Book Festival web site
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
WAKE UP, DEAD MAN by Bruce Jackson is part of a lead feature on Folkstreams.net. This web site is a wonderful repository of hard-to-find documentary films about American folk or roots cultures. Bruce's research on prison work songs resulted in the book Wake Up, Dead Man; the film Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison; and the song compilation, also titled Wake Up, Dead Man, which is available from Rounder Records.
Eric Shade, author of the Flannery O'Connor Award-winning short story collection, EYESORES, has a new web site.
Yet another impressive review of Vincent Carretta's EQUIANO, THE AFRICAN, this time by the journal Eighteenth-Century Studies: "Handsomely illustrated and meticulously researched, Equiano, the African will be read with great interest by those wishing to learn more about the author of one of the late eighteenth-century's most fascinating books."
THE LAST HARVEST, Perry Dilbeck's homage to southern truck farmers, got a mention in a recent newspaper article on rural farm stands. Southern foodie John T. Edge wrote the article. We're publishing The Last Harvest in partnership with the Center for American Places.
Friday, July 28, 2006
James C. Cobb Wins Georgia Author of the Year Award
Calling the book "ornery but learned," historian Robert J. Norrell (author of The House I Live In: Race in the American Century) has praised THE BROWN DECISION... as "a powerful assertion of the centrality of the Brown decision to the South's racial progress in the twentieth century. Those who have said otherwise get taken to the woodshed in this lively little book."
Jim Cobb blogs here
Another book by Jim Cobb
The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
Resources from National Public Radio on the fiftieth anniversary of Brown
Photo: Michael Patterson
Friday, July 21, 2006
Sea Turtle Expert Talks about Her New Book
Though sea turtles have been swimming the seas for 100 million years, they are now on U.S. and international endangered lists. The species covered in this book are the loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, green sea turtle, hawksbill, and olive ridley. Chapters on each species cover distribution, habitats, appearance, life history and behavior, and conservation.
Color photos of hatchlings and adults are included, as are migration maps. Equipped with this book, readers will be better able to understand sea turtle biology and support sea turtle conservation efforts.
Carol is based at the Cumberland Island Museum
Lots more sea turtle information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Book on Dragonflies and Damselflies Grows Out of Author's Love of Flying and Birding
Lots of great nature photography at Giff's web site
Odonata have been around for a long time
The cultural and artistic impact of odonata
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Theatre Library Association Recognizes Two Outstanding University of Georgia Press Books
Read a review of Uncle Tom Mania
Read a review of Eugene O'Neill's Last Plays
More about the place of Uncle Tom's Cabin in our history and culture
Lots of authoritative information about Eugene O'Neill's life and work
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Reviews Continue to Roll in for Frank Kogan's Real Punks Don't Wear Black
"One of the greatest books of collected music criticism. Kogan is one of the fiercest and most dependably fascinating cultural theorists working, and he's absolutely on fire when he digs hard into something like the Iggy Pop death-drive in DMX's music or the frantic violence of the Contortions' live shows ... Kogan's starry-eyed idealism and conceptual rigor make him one of the best writers and thinkers in rock criticism." - Pitchfork
"A book that convinced me that reading about pop music can be cooler than actually listening to it ... Kogan isn't so much writing about his time as writing himself into existence through pop. It's a damn fine performance." - Eye Weekly
Check out Frank Kogan's MySpace blog
Read the rolling teenpop thread on ILX - a frequent hangout for Frank
Words and Music and But Is It Garbage?: two more great books about pop music and contemporary culture
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
New Reader's Guide Available for Coming-of-Age Novel The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
See the reader's guide for The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
See all of our reader's guides
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys is also a critically acclaimed film
See more work by Dean Rohrer, illustrator of our award-winning book cover
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Thomas Rain Crowe Wins Third Award for His Walden-Like Memoir of Life in the Appalachian Woods
Rain Crowe's book is the result of his having spent four years living alone in a cabin, without electricity or plumbing, deep in the woods of western North Carolina, and clearly brings to mind the experiences of another who wrote of his time living at an isolated pond in New England in the mid-19th century. Rain Crowe, after a long absence from his native southern Appalachians, inhabits a cabin he helped build years before, on a North Carolina farm once owned by a man named Zoro Guice. The book chronicles both the internal and external world of Rain Crowe - digging a root cellar, being a good listener, gathering wood, living in the moment, tending a mountain garden?as he pursues a life of conscious simplicity, spirituality, and environmental responsibility.
Of Rain Crowe, author, journalist and Phil Reed judge Charles Seabrook says: "He writes eloquently and passionately about living off the land and learning to appreciate nature in all its glory. In the end, though, he shows how quickly nature?s wonders can be lost when we forego our vigilance to protect them." ZORO'S FIELD is published by the University of Georgia Press, which plans to issue a paperback edition this fall..
This is the third honor ZORO'S FIELD. It previously won the 2005 Ragan Old North State Award Cup for Nonfiction, given by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. The book also received an honorable mention in the 2006 IPPY Awards, sponsored by Independent Publisher magazine
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Judson Mitcham Is the First Two-Time Winner of the Townsend Prize for Fiction
"We are delighted that Judson has received this prestigious award for his second novel," said Press Director Nicole Mitchell. "This is a great honor for a very fine writer."
The Townsend Prize is awarded every other year to an outstanding novel or short-story collection published by a Georgia writer during the previous two years. The prize is named for Jim Townsend, a former editor at the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the founding editor of Atlanta magazine, and an early mentor to many Georgia writers.
SABBATH CREEK tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a 93-year-old black man, Stroud, and a 14-year-old white boy, Lewis, that develops after Lewis's mother uproots him to journey through South Georgia.
SABBATH CREEK was lauded widely by critics for its simple but elegant language and the elegiac tone.
"Mitcham's fiction has a dark, brooding quality," commented a reviewer in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "a sort of sweet-natured melancholy that makes it impossible to predict redemption or eternal damnation for his wonderfully flawed characters."
"This spare, lovely novel, while generous in humor, is anchored by sorrow and interspersed with portents of tragedy," wrote one critic in the New York Times Book Review.
In addition to the critical praise, the book sold well for UGA Press. Harvest Books, a division of Harcourt, a major trade publishing house, bought paperback rights and published an edition in 2005.
"Both of Judson's novels were embraced by that small but devoted group of readers who follow serious literary fiction," according to John McLeod, Sales and Marketing Manager at UGA Press. "But his books are also loved by a more mainstream audience - fans of contemporary Southern fiction. His work is like Pat Conroy's or Lee Smith's in that it has wide appeal but is still excellent writing."
Mitcham received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Georgia and went on to teach psychology for 30 years at Fort Valley State University. He has served as adjunct professor of creative writing at the University of Georgia, Emory University, and Mercer University. He has also written a book of poetry called Somewhere in Ecclesiastes, which earned him both the Devins Award and recognition as Georgia Author of the Year. He is retired from teaching and lives in Macon.
More about Judson Mitcham's second Townsend Prize
The Townsend Prize is awarded by the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College
Listen to an interview with Judson Mitcham on Georgia Public Broadcasting's Cover to Cover