The Townsend Award for Fiction is a major Georgia literary prize that has followed a bit of a winding path since its inception. They began back in 1981, named to honor Jim Townsend, the founder of Atlanta magazine and a fine writer who served as an inspiration to a number of young authors. Over the years since his passing, however, the Townsend family apparently lost interwest and is no longer involved in the award though it continues to carry his name. Instead, it is administered by Georgia Perimeter College and the Georgia Center for the Book, with assistance from several other organizations.
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 pretty fair group of whom you may have heard: 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 foror this year have just been named. They are, in alphabetical order:
Daniel Black forPerfect Peace
Lynn Cullen for Reign of Madness
Ann Hite for Ghost on Black Mountain
Joshilyn Jackson for Backseat Saints
Collin Kelley for Remain in Light
Thomas Mullen for The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers
Andrew Plattner for A Marriage of Convenience
Josh Russell for My Bright Midnight
Joseph Skibell for A Curable Romantic
Amanda Kyle Williams for The Stranger You Seek
If you’re looking for a good fiction reading list, go no further. This is a great one. They are all Georgia writers, or writers with strong connections to this state, and they represent a great diversity in showcasing literary talent around these parts.
The winner of the Townsend Award — given every other year, by the way — will be announced at a gala reception on the evening of April 26 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (not exactly known as a literary salon, but it’s lovely nonetheless). We’ll have details about tickets posted shortly. In the meantime, 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, but we’ll all have to wait until April 26 to find out who’s the winner. We hope you’ll want to join us there for the festivities, and to hear from keynote speaker, the prize-winning novelist Anne Beattie.