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. 

Category: BIOGRAPHY

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

Category: COOKBOOK

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 

Category: DETECTIVE/MYSTERY

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

Category: HISTORY

Winner: G. Wayne Clough, Things New & Strange: A Southerner’s Journey Through the Smithsonian Collections

Finalist: Akila Sankar McConnell, A Culinary History of Atlanta 

Category: INSPIRATIONAL

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

Category: MEMOIR

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

Category: ROMANCE

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.

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