June 15, 2020 - In lieu of the traditional catered celebration, Georgia Writers Association (GWA) announced via Facebook Live the winners and finalists of the 56th annual Georgia Author of the Year Awards. The recording of the announcement is also available on the Georgia Writers Association Facebook page and on the Georgia Author of the Year Awards website.
Since its founding in 1994, Georgia Writers Association has been dedicated to fostering the growth of writers across all genres. Winners and finalists were selected from 110 nominees and across 14 categories.
Please find below a list of the award recipients in order by category.
Winner: John D. Duncan & Sandra L. Underwood, The Showy Town of Savannah: The Story of the Architect William Jay
Finalist: David Cady, Religion of Fear: The True Story of the Church of God of the Union Assembly
Category: CHILDREN’S BOOK
Winner: Tanya Valentine, Illustrated by Jorge Martin, Little Taco Truck
Finalist: Denene Millner, Illustrated by Gladys Jose, Fresh Princess
Winner: Whitney Otawka, The Saltwater Table: Recipes from The Coastal South
Finalist: Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin, The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert
Winner: Brian Panowich, Like Lions
Finalist: Joshilyn Jackson, Never Have I Ever
Category: ESSAY COLLECTION
Winner: Megan Volpert, Boss Broad
Finalist: LaRue Cook, Man in the (Rearview) Mirror: That Time I Left Corporate America, Became An Uber Driver, and Lived to Write About It
Category: FIRST NOVEL
Winner: Anissa Gray, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
Finalist: Jessica Handler, The Magnetic Girl
Winner: G. Wayne Clough, Things New & Strange: A Southerner’s Journey Through the Smithsonian Collections
Finalist: Akila Sankar McConnell, A Culinary History of Atlanta
Winner: Barbara Brown Taylor, Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others
Finalist: Carl McColman, Unteachable Lessons: Why Wisdom Can’t Be Taught (And Why That’s Okay)
Category: LITERARY FICTION
Winner: Zoe Fishman, Invisible as Air
Finalist: Susan Rebecca White, We Are All Good People Here
Winner: Heather Christle, The Crying Book
Finalist: Jared Yates Sexton, The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making
Category: POETRY CHAPBOOK
Winner: Clela Reed, Silk
Finalist: Diana Anhalt, Walking Backward
Category: POETRY FULL-LENGTH BOOK
Winner: Malcolm Tariq, Heed the Hollow
Finalist: Edward Wilson, In a Rich Country
Winner: Tracy Solheim, Shot in the Dark
Finalist: Wendy Wax, My Ex-Best Friend’s Wedding
Category: YOUNG ADULT
Winner: Nic Stone, Jackpot
Finalist: Laura Silverman, You Asked for Perfect
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Lynn Cullen
Lynn Cullen has lived in intown Atlanta for thirty-six years. Her novel, Mrs. Poe, a national bestseller, was named a Book of the Week by People Magazine, a Target Book Club Pick, an NPR 2013 Great Read, an Indie Next List selection, a Penny’s Pick at Costco, an Oprah Book of the Week, and Best of 2013 by Atlanta Magazine. Her novel, Twain's End, was a People Magazine Book of the Week, a Townsend Prize finalist, named a Book All Georgians Should Read by the Georgia Center for the Book, an Indie Next pick, and was featured, as was Mrs. Poe, in the New York Times Book Review Shortlist. The Sisters of Summit Avenue was a Fall 2019 Publisher’s Weekly Buzz Book and received an American Library Association Booklist starred review. Her novels have been translated into seventeen languages and she has appeared on PBS American Masters. She is not done yet.
POSTHUMOUS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Leon Stokesbury
Leon Stokesbury was born in Oklahoma City, OK, but grew up in southeast Texas. Leon retired from Georgia State University in 2018, where he taught in the creative writing department for 30 years. He earned an MFA in poetry at the University of Arkansas with an MFA in poetry, and a Ph.D. in creative writing at Florida State University.
Author and editor of several poetry collections, he received the Distinguished Georgia Poet of the Year Award in 1992.
His first national publication was the poem “The Lamar Tech Football Team Has Won its Game,” published in The New Yorker in 1967, while he was a student at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. His first book of poems, Often in Different Landscapes, was a co-winner of the first AWP Poetry Competition in 1975. He edited several poetry anthologies, including The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry; Articles of War: American Poetry about World War II; and The Light the Dead See: The Selected Poems of Frank Stanford. His most recent book, You are Here: Poems New & Old, was published by the University of Arkansas Press in 2016. Among other awards, he was selected for a Robert Frost Fellowship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference; was awarded The Poets’ Prize; and received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Stokesbury was widely admired as a masterful reader of poetry.