Early spring roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies has received the Story Prize—the first book from a university press (or small press of any kind) to win this recognition as the year’s outstanding collection of short fiction. It has been named one of five finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the first fiction category, and also (continuing its remarkable run of awards attention) advances from longlist to finalist status for the PEN/Faulkner Award. The book earns mentions in New York Magazine, the Rumpus, Pittsburgh Magazine, and the bulletin of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and author Deesha Philyaw appears on the podcasts from Storybound, Read More, and Black and Published. Watch for the announcement of the LA Times winners on April 16 and the PEN/Faulkner winner on May 10.

Jim Lewis’s “continuously engaging” Ghosts of New York is reviewed in Booklist, which praises the author as “a master at painting developed characters captured in various moments in time.” Lewis will launch the novel—which is excerpted in Air/Light Magazine—at a free online event with Shakespeare & Co. on April 2. Harper’s magazine will cohost.

Volume editor Travis Stimeling and contributor Paige Zalman discuss The Opioid Epidemic and US Culture at 100 Days in Appalachia. The title is reviewed in the Southern Review of Books, where it’s praised for “bringing awareness to damaging stereotypes and further victimization of those caught in the opioid epidemic.”

Also at 100 Days in Appalachia, Eric Kerl reviews So Much to Be Angry About, praising author Shaun Slifer’s “insightful eye,” and calling the volume “a testament to the ingenuity of our social movements.”

Joshua Eyler, author of How Humans Learn, talks with the Chronicle of Higher Education about universities, grief, and the importance of mourning as a response to covid.

In other higher education news:

Larry Thacker’s Working It Off in Labor County receives attention in Still, Chapter 16, and the Southern Review of Books, which calls it “tender in its depiction of rural American ennui.”

At the Alabama Writers’ Forum, Lana Austin’s Like Light, Like Music is praised as “compelling and adept.”

The Daily Yonder has the first excerpt from William Turner’s forthcoming The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns.

Radio station WDIY in Pennsylvania interviews Kimberly Blockett about the Black evangelist Zilpha Elaw, the subject of her forthcoming book with WVU.

Joanna Eleftheriou, author of This Way Back, is a guest on the podcasts Dropping In and Tried and True.

The journal Agricultural History praises Stian Rice’s Famine in the Remaking as “an elegant and impassioned comparative account.”

Chuck Keeney appears on the Labor Valley Report to talk about his book The Road to Blair Mountain. He’ll deliver a West Virginia Humanities Council “Little Lecture” on March 28.

The EQ Spotlight podcast features Paul Jenkins, author of Bluegrass Ambassadors.

LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia is calleda great introduction to LBGTQ literature” in the Georgia Library Quarterly.

And in Frieze, an essay on Hollywood at the end of the Trump era cites Appalachian Reckoning as a response to Hillbilly Elegy.

Our authors remain active on the virtual circuit. See all of their upcoming events on WVU Press’s calendar, including a panel at the Virginia Festival of the Book on March 13 sponsored by the National Book Foundation. It features Deesha Philyaw alongside Rumaan Alam and Megha Majumdar.


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