Tennessee readers have some celebrating to do: on November 8, much decorated Memphis novelist Richard Bausch—who’s already won two National Magazine Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the PEN/Malamud Award, among other honors—will accept the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, “the first and only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace,” according to its charter. An extension of the Dayton Peace Prize, the literary award celebrates “writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding.” Past recipients include Taylor Branch, Studs Terkel and Elie Wiesel.
Bausch is being honored for his most recent novel, fittingly titled Peace, which is set in 1944 in wartime Italy. Ben MacIntyre, writing in The New York Times Book Review, called the book, Bausch’s seventeenth, “a short, bleakly brilliant one-act drama depicting the futility and moral complexity of combat.” Stay tuned: in the November 19 edition of Chapter 16, Clay Risen will be talking with Richard Bausch about his life and his work and the ceremony next week in Dayton.
Creative-writing faculty and aspiring writers at Vanderbilt received their own good news this week: Poets & Writers magazine named the university’s fledgling MFA in Creative Writing program one of the nation’s Top 20. Only four years after its creation, the program earned a fourth place in selectivity—admitting just six of 374 applicants—and eighteenth overall. The program is directed by poet Mark Jarman. Faculty members include fiction writers Tony Earley, Lorraine Lopez, Alice Randall, and Nancy Reisman; poets Sandy Solomon, Beth Bachman, Kate Daniels, and Rick Hilles; and nonfiction writer Peter Guralnick.
There’s news—if not quite such exciting news—at Chapter 16, too: this week we launch our podcast. The featured episode is a reading by William Ferris, author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues, recorded at the Southern Festival of Books last month. If you click on “Podcast” in the navigation bar above, a link will take you to Chapter 16‘s FeedBurner page, where you can hear Ferris reading. While you’re there, take a look around: we’ve got episodes for Kathryn Stockett, reading from, The Help; Ann Patchett, reading from Run; and David Maraniss, reading from Rome 1960: The Olympics that Changed the World. We’ll be updating the podcast often; sign up for the feed, and you won’t miss even one. And if you’re in Memphis on Saturday, you can hear William Ferris read in person at Davis-Kidd Booksellers. Check the events section of Chapter 16 for details.
We’ve done some talking ourselves this week: In our Q&A section, look for interviews with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who will be in Nashville this weekend to receive the Nashville Public Library Literary Award; Dorothy Allison, who will be reading in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee; and John Carter Cash, who discusses his new children’s book, Momma Loves Her Little Son, inspired by his mother, June Carter Cash. They’re writers, so of course they have a lot to say—about Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Seuss, the Bible, lesbian literary activism, and the Philadelphia Phillies—but you’ll have to read the interviews to find out who said what.