Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Thomas Rain Crowe Wins Third Award for His Walden-Like Memoir of Life in the Appalachian Woods

The Southern Environmental Law Center is pleased to announce the winners of this year's Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment. In the Book category, North Carolina writer Thomas Rain Crowe won for ZORO'S FIELD: MY 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

Judson Mitcham was awarded the 2006 Townsend Prize for his novel SABBATH CREEK in a ceremony held in Atlanta on Wednesday, May 24. Mitcham is the first to receive the Townsend Prize twice; previously he won it for THE SWEET EVERLASTING (1998). Both his novels were published by the University of Georgia Press, and this is the fifth UGA Press title to be honored with the Townsend Prize.

"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