In 2000, the Margaret Mitchell House and Atlanta magazine assumed sponsorship. Sponsors and partners of the 2010 Townsend Prize include the Georgia Center for the Book, the Atlanta Writers Club and A Cappella Books.
This year’s keynote speaker will be author and former poet laureate of North Carolina Fred Chappell, whose most recent collection of short stories is “Ancestors and Others” (2009).
At the award's presentation in 2002, Chattahoochee Review editor Lawrence Hetrick explained that the prize is intended to recognize two accomplishments by a writer: “First, we're looking for excellence and originality in language. Second, we're looking for human insight.”
The selections for 2010 more than fulfill both those requirements.
Consider this passage from finalist Susan Rebecca White’s “Bound South”: “I grip the steering wheel even tighter while telling myself to calm down. These are only boys, only children Caroline's age, and there is no reason, just because they are black, that I should be afraid of them. We studied the perception versus the reality of actual danger once in Sunday school and how it is our internalized racism that makes us scared of those who are -- in fact -- quite often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Still, it's not as if Nanny Rose and I blend into the neighborhood. It's not as if we are driving a rusty old car. No, we are driving the new silver Lexus that John Henry gave me for my birthday.”
1. James Braziel: “Snakeskin Road”
2. Phillip DePoy: “The King James Conspiracy”
3. Tom Edwards: “Blue Jesus”
4. Amanda Gable: “The Confederate General Rides North”
5. Joshilyn Jackson: “The Girl Who Stopped Swimming”
6. Sang Pak: “Wait Until Twilight”
7. Kathryn Stockett: “The Help”
8. Bailey White: “Nothing With Strings”
9. Susan Rebecca White: “Bound South”
10. Philip Lee Williams: “The Campfire Boys”
Past winners include Renee Dodd, Mary Hood, Ha Jin, Terry Kay, Judson Mitcham, Ferrol Sams, Celestine Sibley and Alice Walker.
Reception and book signing
6-9 p.m. April 22. Free and open to the public. Margaret Mitchell House, 990 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-249-7015. Please RSVP to Debbie Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678-891-3275.