Southern indie bookstore owners pick their favorite titles

April 18, 2013

Once again, Ben Fountain finds himself contending for a literary prize. In additional to garnering widespread critical praise, his Iraq War novel, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and it won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Now, it’s also a finalist for the best fiction prize from the Southern Independent Bookstore Association.

SIBA announced the finalists in six categories yesterday. To be eligible, a book must be set in the South or written by a Southern author — “preferably both,” according to the association guidelines. (Fountain lives in Dallas, where “Billy Lynn” takes place.) All nominations come from several hundred indie bookstore owners.

Thrall,” by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, is a finalist in the poetry category. (She was born in Gulfport, Miss.) This new collection explores her life as the daughter of an African American woman and a white man, the poet Eric Trethewey.

Because this is the South, these judges know what’s important. Unlike the Pulitzers, the SIBA contest includes a “cooking” category, and the finalists have no-nonsense titles such as “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.”

The winners, chosen by a jury of SIBA members, will be announced on July 4. Here’s the full list of finalists:

Fiction
“A Land More Kind Than Home,” by Wiley Cash (William Morrow)
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” by Ben Fountain (Ecco)
“The Cove,” by Ron Rash (Ecco)
“Sea Change,” by Karen White (New American LIbrary)
“Shine Shine Shine,” by Lydia Netzer (St. Martin’s)
“Stray Decorum,” by George Singleton (Dzanc)

Poetry
“Descent,” by Kathryn Stripling Byer (Louisiana State Univ.)
“Permanent Camp,” by George Ellison (History Press)
“Thrall,” by Natasha Trethewey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Nonfiction
“The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans,” by Lawrence N. Powell (Harvard Univ.)
“Down Bohicket Road: An Artist S Journey. Paintings and Sketches,” by Mary Whyte (Univ. of South Carolina)
“Losing My Sister,” by Judy Goldman (John F. Blair)
“My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop,” by Ron Rice (Black Dog & Leventhal)
“Stand Up That Mountain,” by Jay Erskine Leutze (Scribner)

Cooking
“The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook,” by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day (Artisan)
“Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides: 250 Dishes That Really Make the Plate,” by Fred Thompson (Univ. of North Carolina)
“Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking,” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith)
“Around the Southern Table: Coming Home to Comforting Meals and Treasured Memories,” by Rebecca Lang (Oxmoor)

Children’s
“Chomp,” by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” by William Joyce (Atheneum)
“Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons,” by Eric Litwin and James Dean (HarperCollins)

Young Adult
“34 Pieces of You,” by Carmen Rodrigues (Simon Pulse)
“A Million Suns,” by Beth Revis (Razorbill)
“Fathomless,” by Jackson Pearce (Little Brown)
“Three Times Lucky,” by Sheila Turnage (Dial)

Twitter @RonCharles

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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Chris Richards | April 18, 2013