Gurney’s Bend will be Hazard, Kentucky, newest subdivision. It is named after Gurney Norman who lived as a youth in the Allias community where his grandfather ran a coal company store. Norman is one of the most prominent promoters of Appalachian literature and the author, most notably, of Divine Right’s Trip and Kinfolks. The subdivision is being developed by the non-profit Housing Development Alliance which will build fifteen affordable houses and make them available to relatively low-income families.
Dolly Parton has been named Southern Living’s Southerner of the Year. They singled out her Imagination Library as the primary reason for their pick. Now in its 25th year, it has distributed 132 Million books in 5 countries. She is the co-author most recently of Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics with Robert K. Oermann and the author of Dolly an autobiography and of Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You. Many books have been written about her and her impact.
Dolly Parton was also named to USA TODAY’s Women of the Century List. Celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage – at least for most white women. They picked ten women from each state, including several from Appalachia. Also on Tennessee’s list is Marilou Awiakta. She is the author most notably of Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother’s Wisdom, and Abiding Appalachia: Where Mountain and Atom Meet. She was born in Knoxville and grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In her case, she really did have a Cherokee grandfather. Now 84 she lives in Memphis where her late husband served as a physician throughout his career. From Kentucky, Loretta Lynn of Johnson County made the list. She has written a cookbook and two memoirs, Coal Miner’s Daughter and Still Woman Enough. West Virginia includes the author Pearl Buck of Hillsboro who wrote biographies of both her West Virginia parents as well as better known books about China and Mary Lou Retton of Fairmont who is known best as a gymnast, but also has books in print, including a memoir and a book about achieving happiness. On the Virginia list is Nikki Giovanni, the poet who teaches at Virginia Tech and June Carter Cash of Hiltons, the author of the memoir, Among My Klediments. Condoleezza Rice, a native of Birmingham, represents Alabama. She has written several books, including memoirs.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi finished up the year being named #2 in This Week’s list of the five best novels of the year 2020.
Five Finalists in each category for the Southern Book Prize, presented by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance include
In Fiction – The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickles
In Childrens – Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
Garden and Gun’s list of “Our Favorite Books for Southerners in 2020” includes at #10 In the Valley by Ron Rash, at #18 When These Mountains Burn by David Joy, and at # 24 How To Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) by Barbara Kingsolver.
Garden and Gun also ran an article entitled, “The Top of 2021 Reading List for Southerners” that listed 30 books that G & G contributors and editors planned to read or re-read this year. Some are forthcoming. Some are newly published, and others are from way back. Included are You Want More by George Singleton and Deliverance by James Dickey.
On the January 24th New York Times Hardcover Fiction bestseller list, The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, set in Birmingham, was #4.
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins made the Most Anticipated Books of 2021 lists of CNN, Newsweek, Vulture, PopSugar, Parade, BuzzFeed, E!Oline, Time Out, Women’s Day, Goodreads, She Reads, Good Housekeeping, CrimeReads, Frolic, Hello!, and Suspense.
Book Riot’s Most Anticipated Books of 2021 includes Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Virginia by Elizabeth Catte forthcoming in February.