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May News from the Appalachian Literary Scene

May News from the Appalachian Literary Scene

Robert Gipe has won Transylvania University’s 2021 Judy Gaines Young Book Award for his Canard County Trilogy which he completed in 2021 with Pop, which followed Weedeater (2020) and Trampoline (2015).


The American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next list for June includes

Bewildeness a novel by Karen Tucker in a fictional setting inspired by living in Asheville, North Carolina.


The “Read This Next” for Spring 2021 list from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance includes:

The Killing Hills, a novel by Chris Offutt set in Eastern Kentucky.


Crystal Wilkinson has successfully sold her culinary memoir with recipes at auction to an imprint of Penguin/Random House. Look for it in 2023.


One of the key pieces in the supporting super-structure of Appalachian Literature for the last more than forty years has been the Highland Summer Conference (HSC) held every summer at Radford University. People come to this workshop both to learn about our literature, how to teach it, and how to write it. Several of its students learned so well that they later became teachers at the HSC. Parks Lanier created the HSC and turned it over to Grace Toney Edwards who ran it for 27 years. When she retired, the baton was passed on to Theresa Burris. Now, we have a book, Writers by the River: Reflections on 40+ Years of the Highland Summer Conference edited by Donia S. Eley and Grace Toney Edwards. This book of essays from those who participated in the HSC and revere it gives voice to many of the leading contemporary practitioners and promoters of our literature.


Marilou Awiakta is being celebrated by the University of Tennessee libraries in a video to be presented at 6:30 p.m. on June 3. To register, e-mail


West Virginia University Press is the publisher of a book that garnered the PEN/Faulkner prize, one of the most prestigious in the book world. The award is given annually to the best work of fiction by a living US writer, and this is the first time any university press has published a winning recipient.  The book is The Secret Lives of Church Ladies  by Deesha Philyaw. The book consists of nine stories that follow four generations of characters. Philyaw was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, did her undergraduate work at Yale and her Masters at Manhattanville College. She worked for a Pittsburgh bank in communications before she was able to devote full-time to her writing and speaking. She lives in Pittsburgh with her two daughters.


Steve Flairty has done one of his excellent “Kentucky by Heart” columns for the Northern Kentucky Tribune on Rebecca Caudill (1899-1985) the Harlan County born author of more than twenty books, most written for children and young adults.