Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award Winner Announced

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The Western North Carolina Historical Association is pleased to announce the selection of the 60th winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.

This year the winners of the Award are Doug Orr and Fiona Ritchie, bestowed for their book, Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia.

In making the award the Selection Panel noted: “We believe this is a book that will serve as the standard in the field of Western North Carolina music history for decades to come. The Panel applauds the ambition and scholarship of the authors and the publisher. The work is thoroughly researched, beautifully written, exceptionally well designed and illustrated, and as an appropriate coda, includes a wonderful illustrative CD of the music it honors”

A prize of $1,500 accompanies the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and will be presented to the author at an annual Award event. The Award event, followed by a reception, is scheduled for Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 4-6 PM at the Renaissance Hotel (31 Woodfin St, Asheville), directly across the street from The Old Kentucky Home. The award reception is generously being sponsored by the Renaissance Hotel. Event tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for Asheville History Center members. Tickets may be reserved by contacting the Asheville History Center at 828-253-9231.

In addition to the recognition of Dr. Orr and Ms. Ritchie, for only the second time in 60 years, in order to more broadly support the writers of Western North Carolina the other four finalists for the award have also been invited to attend the event and read a brief excerpt from their work. The finalists were chosen from an original group of nominations numbering twenty-one, and are as follows:

– The Life of the World to Come, by Joseph Bathanti
– Mr. Tall and Other Stories, by Tony Earley
– Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland, by Jeremy Jones
– Where All Light Tends to Go, by David Joy

Originated by the Louis Lipinsky family and now supported by Michael Sartisky, PhD and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Board, the Award has been presented annually since 1955 for printed works that focus special attention on Western North Carolina.

To be considered, an entry had to be a published work of fiction, nonfiction, drama, or poetry. It had to be a first edition work. The publication date of the published work to be considered had to be between January 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015 and the author had to be a native of the Western North Carolina region or a resident of WNC for at least twelve months prior to the closing date for the Award. If the author does not qualify as a native or resident, the focus or setting of the work must be Western North Carolina. Western North Carolina includes the Qualla Boundary and the westernmost 25 counties.

The WNC Historical Association and the Lipinsky family of Asheville presented the first Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award to Wilma Dykeman in 1955 for The French Broad. Last year the winner was Robert Morgan for his novel, The Road From Gap Creek. Other authors who have received the award include John Paris, Gail Godwin, John Ehle, Charles Frazier, Robert Brunk, Michael McFee, Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Wiley Cash, and Wayne Caldwell.

The Award Panel this year consists of Michael Sartisky, PhD, Chair, President Emeritus of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities; Richard Graham, PhD, President, WNCHA; Wayne Caldwell, former Wolfe Prize recipient; Jim Stokely, board member, Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee; Dan Pierce, PhD, Immediate Past Chair, UNCA Department of History; Gwin Jones, Immediate Past Chair WNCHA; Tom Muir, Director, Thomas Wolfe Memorial; Mimi Fenton, PhD, Immediate past Dean of the Graduate School, WCU; Thomas Wright, owner, Battery Park Book Store; Ellen Carr, board member, Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Committee; and Kay Manley, retired bookstore owner and book lover.