2018 North Carolina Book Award Recipients Announced


Writers delving into societal inequality and social unrest have taken top honors in the competitions for the 2018 North Carolina Book Award, to be presented Oct. 26 during the annual meeting of the N.C. Literary and Historical Association in Greenville. The struggle of women and African Americans seeking opportunity and equality resonate throughout the winning works.

Since its founding in September 1900, the N.C. Literary and Historical Association has pledged to stimulate the production of literature and to collect and preserve historical material in North Carolina. The 2018 North Carolina Book Awards uphold that tradition.

The Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction goes to Jerry Gershenhorn of Durham, for “Louis Austin and the ‘Carolina Times.’” The biography chronicles Austin’s work as publisher of the “Carolina Times” weekly, where for more than 40 years he gave voice to the struggle for civil rights and was an activist for African American equality. Gershenhorn is a history professor at N.C. Central University.

The Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction goes to Wiley Cash of Wilmington, for “The Last Ballad,” the tale of textile worker Ella Mae Wiggins and the tension around union organizing in North Carolina in 1929. A mother of four deserted by her husband, Wiggins grasps at the opportunity to improve their lives and it all comes to a tragic end. Cash teaches at UNC-Asheville.

The Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry goes to Heather Ross Miller of Badin, for “Women Disturbing the Peace.” In it she explores the way women disturb the peace and insist on their rightful place in the world. One reviewer notes, these women “know how to serve tea and kill the chickens they serve for dinner.” Miller is retired from teaching creative writing and literature at several universities.

The American Association of University Women Award for Young People’s Literature goes to Carole Boston Weatherford of High Point, for “Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library.” The title recounts the life of Afro-Puerto Rican Arturo Schomburg and his quest to make the history of Africa’s sons and daughters visible. He amassed a collection that he gave to the New York Public Library, which has become the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Weatherford is a writer and teaches at Fayetteville State University.  

The Parker Memorial Award for Literary Achievement goes to Jaki Shelton Green of Mebane, who was named Poet Laureate of North Carolina this summer. Her body of work explores issues of race, class and gender, as she builds bridges across communities. She has led classes as a community arts advocate for underserved populations, and currently teaches poetry at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies.

The R.D.W. Connor Award for the best article in the North Carolina Historical Review goes to Jelani Favors of Morrow, Ga., for “Race Women: New Negro Politics and the Flowering of Radicalism at Bennett College, 1900-1945.” The article explores the move to activism at the historically black women’s college. Favors is assistant professor of history at Clayton State University.

The C.C. Crittenden Memorial Award for lifetime contributions to history goes to Charles Ewen of Greenville, archaeologist at East Carolina University, for his commitment to extending knowledge about North Carolina through examination of what can be found underfoot. He and his students have plumbed the depths at several state historic sites.

The Hardee-Rives Dramatic Arts Award goes to Eddie Swimmer of Cherokee, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, for his accomplishments as a dancer, speaker and storyteller in the Cherokee tradition. 

The Hugh T. Lefler Award for best college student paper goes to Brian Wood of Davidson College, for “Social Issues Do Not Take Care of Themselves: Black Physicians and the Fight to Desegregate Medicine in North Carolina, 1945-1976.” 

Student awards also are presented during the free afternoon program. The Student Publication Awards, High School Division, recipients are: “Portraits in Ink,” Durham School of the Arts, first place; “Prenumbra,” Carolina Day School, Asheville, second place; “Stone Soup,” Enloe High School, Raleigh, third place.

Middle School award recipients are “Illusions,” Martin Middle School, Raleigh, first place; “Yearbook Fusion,” Smithfield Middle School, second place; P@wPrintz,” Randleman Middle School, third place. 

For additional information on the North Carolina Book Awards, please call (919) 814-6624. Tickets to the evening program are $45 and may be purchased online through Oct. 19 by credit card and PayPal. The address is http://litandhis.ncdcr.gov/Programs.aspx. The Office of Archives and History is within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and administers the program. 

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