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February 2020 News from the Appalachian Literary Scene

February 2020 News from the Appalachian Literary Scene

Lisa Alther received one of eight ISF International Awards for Human Achievement for 2019 at a ceremony in the Library of the Athenaeum Club on Pall Mall in London, England. ISF stands for the Idries Shah Foundation, named for Idries Shah, a renowned Sufi author and thinker seen as building a bridge between Eastern and Western thinking. Other recipients this year included Jane Goodall and Sir David Attenborough. The Awards themselves take the form of gilded ormolu medallions, crafted in the workshops of Spink & Son, legendary medal-makers to Queen Elizabeth II, founded in 1666.


Ron Rash has been awarded the Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature given by Mercer University. The award was started in 2012. Previous winners are Ernest Gaines, Lee Smith, Elizabeth Spencer, Yusef Komunyakaa, Wendell Berry, Ellen Gilchrist, Natasha Trethewey, and Fred Chappell.


Frank X Walker has been awarded the 2020 Judy Gaines Young Book Award for his poetry book, Last Will, Last Testament. The award has been given to writers in Kentucky and Appalachia since 2015. He also made Ashia Ajani’s list of “Eight Black Eco-Poets Who Inspire Us” published in the February 21st issue of the Sierra Club magazine.


The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is #10 on the New York Times hardback fiction best-seller list for March 8, having been on the list for 20 weeks!


The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson is #12 on the New York Times trade paperback fiction best seller list for March 8, having been on this list for 4 weeks now.


The Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy:

Winner of the 2019 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction

Kirkus Review’s Best Book of the Year in the category of Middle-Grade Books in Verse

One of five honor books for the Robert F. Silbert Informational Book Medal

New York Public Libraries’ Top Ten Books for Kids for 2019


Yaa Gyasi, who grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, in a family that immigrated from Ghana, made Publishers Weekly’s list of the ten most anticipated books of Spring 2020 in the category of Literary Fiction. Her forthcoming second novel is titled, Transcendent Kingdom, and follows a family from Ghana that immigrates to Alabama.


Kiki Petrosino’s forthcoming poetry collection, White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia made Publisher’s Weekly’s list of the top ten most anticipated poetry titles for the Spring of 2020. She teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.


Kim Michele Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek was named Pennie’s Pick for February by Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco’s book buyer.


Adriana Trigiani, the best-selling author of eighteen books who grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, has been lured away from Harper to Dutton by a two-book contract. Her first Dutton book will be titled The Garden of Sundays. It is a multi-generational saga of Italians who immigrate to the United States.


Lorraine, (2018) by Ketch Secor, illustrated by Higgins Bond has been adapted by the Nashville Public Library’s Bring Books to Life (BBTL) program as a puppet show featuring a song written by the author, Ketch Secor, who is also a Grammy award-winning musician. In 2019, BBTL conducted 678 performances -- with five multi-cultural shows, including Lorriane and Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves -- reaching 48,810 audience members.