Monday, January 30, 2012

Townsend Award fiction nominees announced

The Townsend Award for Fiction is a major Georgia literary prize that began back in 1981, named in honor of Jim Townsend, the founder of Atlanta magazine. Townsend, who died unexpectedly at 48 in 1981, created the magazine in 1961 and over the course of two decades served as an inspiration to a number of aspiring authors. Today the Townsend Prize is administered by Georgia Perimeter College, the Georgia Center for the Book, the Margaret Mitchell House, and the Atlanta Writer's Club.

This background, of course, matters not nearly as much as the award itself and the writers who have been chosen to receive it over the years. They include a group with many familiar names to readers: Alice Walker, Terry Kay, Philip Lee Williams, Mary Hood, Ha Jin, Ferrol Sams, and others. It’s a significant award by any name, however, and the ten nominees for this year have just been named. They are, in alphabetical order:

Daniel Black, Perfect Peace

Lynn Cullen, Reign of Madness

Ann Hite, Ghost on Black Mountain

Joshilyn Jackson, Backseat Saints

Collin Kelley, Remain in Light

Thomas Mullen for The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

Andrew Plattner, A Marriage of Convenience

Josh Russell, My Bright Midnight

Joseph Skibell, A Curable Romantic

Amanda Kyle Williams, The Stranger You Seek

Townsend would appreciate the variety of stories nominated in his honor. In an early column for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution he described himself as a writer who was ''an old con who has heard just about every story a man ever believed, and had believed every one of them himself.''

A full list of previous winners is available here.

The winner of the award, which is given every other year, will be announced at a reception on the evening of April 26 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The Center for the Book and the Southern Academy of Literary arts at GPC have chosen a panel of three out-of-state judges who will make a decision among the ten nominees. The award evening keynote speaker will be the prize-winning novelist Ann Beattie.

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