The Western North Carolina Historical Association announces five finalists for the 2022 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award

The Western North Carolina Historical Association announces the selection of five finalists for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. Founded by the Louis Lipinsky family, the award has been presented annually by the Western North Carolina Historical Association since 1955 for publications that pay special attention to western North Carolina. To provide broader support to western North Carolina writers, all five finalists will be celebrated at an awards ceremony on December 13, 2022.

To be considered, an entry must be a published work of fiction, nonfiction, drama, or poetry and meet the following criteria:

  1. It must be a first edition; revised editions of published works will not be considered.
  2. The publication date must be in calendar year 2021 or no later than July 15, 2022.
  3. Author must be born in western North Carolina or have resided in western NC for at least 12 months prior to the award entry deadline.
  4. An author may also qualify if the work submitted has an emphasis or setting in the western NC.

The WNC Historical Association presented Wilma Dykeman with the first Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award in 1955 for The French Broad. Last year’s winner was Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle for her novel Even while we breathe. Other authors who have received the award include Charles Frazier, Robert Morgan, John Parris, Gail Godwin, John Ehle, Robert Brunk, Michael McFee, Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Wiley Cash, Wayne Caldwell, Fiona Ritchie, and Doug Orr.

A $2,500.00 prize accompanies the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and will be presented virtually to one of the five recognized authors on Tuesday, December 13 at 5:00 p.m. during an in-person event at the Reuter Center at UNC-Asheville , which will include readings by finalists. For those unable to attend in person, the event will also be live streamed via Zoom. Please reserve this appointment.

This year’s awards panel consists of: Catherine Frank, Chair, Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville; James Bradley, Secretary of Education for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; Wayne Caldwell, author and former Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award winner; Dee James, Professor Emeritus, UNC-Asheville; Leslee Johnson, English Department, UNC-Asheville; Jasmin Morrell, author and Associate Editor of The Porch magazine; Tom Muir, Historic Site Director, Thomas Wolfe Memorial; Terry Roberts, Director, National Paideia Center; Jim Stokely, President, Legacy of Wilma Dykeman.
This year’s finalists were selected from an original pool of over 50 nominations. The finalists, listed below in alphabetical order, span a wide range of genres and forms.

Anne Chesky-Smith, Asheville’s Battery Park Hotel Murder: The Search for Helen Clevenger’s Killer
Lance Greene, your determination to stay; A Cherokee community’s resistance to the trail of tears
brent martin, George Masa’s wild vision: A Japanese immigrant imagines western North Carolina
Heather Newton, McMullen circle
john ross, Through the Mountains: The French Broad River and Time

The Western North Carolina Historical Association is a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote and preserve regional history. For more information, please call WNCHA at 828.253.9231 or visit