The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction
The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction is sponsored by the Reba and Dave Williams Foundation for Literature and the Arts, and is given annually for the best novel set in the South, as determined by a panel of judges.
The award is named for a famous Southern writer, Willie Morris, and the winning novel should reflect his words, “hope for belonging, for belief in people’s better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive.”
The winning book is publicized in several literary magazines. The author receives $2500 and an expense-paid trip to New York to be honored at a luncheon and reception.
The 2014 award, the eighth in the series, will be announced in June 2015. Previous winning books are as follows:
2013: Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
Queenie Wake is a talented but ornery cook who returns to her small-town Texas home after ten peripatetic years to reckon with her past and start a new life.
2012: A Short Time to Stay Here by Terry Roberts
Love blossoms in an unlikely place: a hotel in the North Carolina mountains converted to a German internment camp during World War I.
2011: If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta
Jack’s family is at the bottom of the social ladder. A popular boy goes missing, and suspicion falls on Jack’s druggy brother—and Jack’s in love with the missing person’s sister. Class conflict in the fictional El Dorado Hills, Virginia, in the late-1960s.
2010: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Silas (black) and Larry (white) are childhood friends in rural Mississippi in the 1970s. Their lives diverge and reengage twenty years later when Larry is suspected of murder for the second time.
2009: Secret Keepers by Mindy Friddle
The dreams of aging housewife Emma Hanley, who lives in Palmetto, South Carolina, are shattered when her husband dies unexpectedly. Her life and garden go to seed, but an old beau turns up. Will he rescue both?
2008: The City of Refuge by Tom Piazza
Hurricane Katrina provokes different reactions by two New Orleans families, revealing the city’s sharp racial and class divide.
2007: The King of Colored Town by Darryl Wimberley
The Klan is active in North Florida in 1963, and a young black man and a musically-talented young black woman are brutally assaulted.
The Reba and Dave Williams Foundation for Literature and the Arts has given SIBA a $40,000 grant to honor their 40 years of support for Southern independent bookstores. The grant will be dedicated to bringing every member store to SIBA’s 40th anniversary Discovery Show in Raleigh, N.C. in September, 2015.
“It is a marvelous statement of support for the importance of independent bookselling,” said executive director Wanda Jewell, “and we’re going to rise to the challenge to bring 100% of SIBA member bookstores to Raleigh in 2015. Reba and Dave will be on hand to kick off the show as the keynotes at our industry breakfast.” Jewell added that the Reba and Dave Williams Foundation has been a strong supporter of SIBA in the past, sponsoring scholarships for booksellers to attend the annual fall trade show in 2013 and 2014.
“As Southerners, however displaced in Yankee-land, Dave and I are big believers in Southern books and bookstores, and the Southern literary tradition,” said Reba White Williams.