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Midsummer roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

We get to June, and the child in me still feels like we should all get a few months of summer vacation. We get to July and it seems like everyone else is out on vacation. But even while the pace of some things has slowed as the temperature rises, the literary interviews, reviews, and events carry on.

First up, congratulations are in order for Rachel King: Bratwurst Haven is the literary fiction winner of the 2023 Colorado Book Award! The Colorado Sun shows support through an interview with King and publication of a story from the collection, “Strangers.”

Congratulations also goes to Tom Bredehoft, whose debut Foote: A Mystery Novel is a finalist for the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America in the category of Best First PI Novel. Winners will be announced on September 1.

And another congratulations to Neema Avashia, whose Another Appalachia came in at #9 on’s audiobook nonfiction bestseller list for May. Neema also contributes to an Esquire article that explores the notion of writing as a hobby or as a career, and she features as one of GoMag‘s 100 Women We Love.

July is Disability Pride month, and the American Booksellers Association recommends The Wounds That Bind Us, the new memoir by Kelley Shinn (“that’s two Ns and no shins”) as a worthwhile read year-round. The book is hailed as “empowering” by the Southern Review of Books. You can find Kelley at bookstores around North Carolina this summer, including at Downtown Books in Manteo on July 25, in a Zoom book discussion on July 28 hosted by Jacar Press and the Regulator in Durham, and at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill on August 31 with Belle Boggs.

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

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies makes its national television debut when it’s recommended on the Kelly Clarkson Show from NBC. Secret Lives is also included in a Mother’s Day feature from Electric Lit, which notes: “When this collection blazed onto the scene in 2020, it won every award possible, putting West Virginia University Press on the map.” Nearly three years after publication, the big book from a small press continues to drive national conversations. Congrats to author Deesha Philyaw!

Forbes magazine celebrates “20 Must-Read Asian American Authored Books For AAPI Month,” including Another Appalachia: “This book lives beautifully in the gray area of trying to navigate a divisive environment while growing up queer and Asian American.” Neema Avashia’s book receives additional attention in Well Read, the 19th News, and all over Book Riot, where it’s part of “An Alphabet of Queer Books“; recommended as a nonfiction accompaniment for those who liked Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead; cited (along with The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) as an example of the future of Appalachian literature; and discussed among three Appalachian memoirs worth a visit. Avashia will appear at Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum in June.

In North Carolina, the Ocracoke Observer profiles Kelley Shinn and her book The Wounds That Bind Us, previewing the title’s June launch event at Ocracoke’s Books to Be Red bookstore.

The In-Betweens is named one of the best books of 2023 (so far) by Style Caster and included on the Jewish Book Council’s reading list for Jewish American Heritage Month as a book that “highlights and speaks to the American Jewish experience throughout history.” On July 11, author Davon Loeb will appear as part of the Maven online event series from American Jewish University; register free at their site.

Kristine Langley Mahler’s Curing Season is lauded in Good Life Review as a book that “pushes boundaries on what a memoir and an essay collection can look like.”

Congratulations to Jason Kapcala, whose novel Hungry Town won a silver medal IPPY for Best Regional Fiction, Great Lakes.

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Mid-spring roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

Kirkus has the first published review of Kelley Shinn’s “harrowing” The Wounds That Bind Us: “Readers may not want to follow in [Shinn’s] footsteps, but they will never be bored with her as a companion.” The author will be joined by Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina’s poet laureate, for a launch event on June 1 in Ocracoke, NC.

Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia is named a finalist for the Weatherford Award in Appalachian studies, joining the long list of recent winners and finalists from WVU Press. Avashia is interviewed in Barrelhouse, and her “stunning” book is recommended alongside William H. Turner’s The Harlan Renaissance in Book Riot‘s piece “Eight Books about Appalachian True Stories.” Avashia will be a featured speaker at the West Virginia Book Festival, as reported in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Also appearing in Book Riot is Deesha Philyaw’s “phenomenal” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, which is included in the feature “The Best Books We Read, January–March, 2023.” Philyaw will appear with Tyriek White at Square Books in Oxford, MS, on May 16.

NPR’s reporting on the movement to “go gradeless” quotes Susan D. Blum, and mentions her book with WVU Press, Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead). Also participating in coverage of the ungrading movement is WVU Press author Joshua Eyler, who’s quoted in Inside Higher Ed.

In other higher education news, Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy, coauthors of Inclusive Teaching, appear in the Chronicle of Higher Education with their essay “How Can ‘Inclusion’ Be a Bad Word?” And Inside Higher Ed quotes current and future WVU Press authors Thomas Tobin, Karen Costa, and Elizabeth Norell in an article on active learning.

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

In Book Riot, Kendra Winchester holds up West Virginia University Press as one of the “wonderful university and indie presses” that “provide a place for a lot of books big publishing doesn’t want to take a risk on.” Her piece (subtitled “supporting small presses supports communities”) quotes WVU Press staff alongside publishing professionals from Feminist Press and Hub City Press. Thanks, Kendra!

Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia is named a finalist for the Lambda Literary “Lammies” Award, with winners to be announced June 9 in New York. Avashia’s book is judged “astute and beautifully crafted” in the Southern Literary Review. She talks with the Read Appalachia podcast.

In Other Lifetimes All I’ve Lost Comes Back to Me is praised as “a deep and howling portrait of longing and loneliness” in the Boston Globe and “brilliantly aching and haunting” in Lilith. Author Courtney Sender appears in Slate with an essay on family, citizenship, and the difficult history of Jews in Europe.

At the website for the Today Show, Jessica George, author of the latest “Read with Jenna” pick, recommends Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. “I think short stories are notoriously difficult to write because you have so much to pack into such a small word count, but I think Deesha did this effortlessly.” Philyaw also makes another (!) appearance in the New York Times, where she talks with Gina Cherelus for the “Third Wheel” column.

Davon Loeb’s The In-Betweens is positively reviewed in Library Journal, which finds it “ideal for those interested in descriptive, insightful stories about what it is like to not quite fit in anywhere.” The book also earns a mention in Vol. 1 Brooklyn.Read More »

Late winter roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

The rollout for The In-Betweens receives wide coverage, in USA Today (where it’s a book of the week), the Philadelphia Inquirer (“gorgeously told”), and the Chicago Review of Books (“utterly captivating and resonant”). Davon Loeb and his book also appear in BOMBLibrary Journal‘s Book Pulse, the Rumpus, Electric Lit, Reckon Review, the Offing, Debutiful, the Southern Review of Books, and the Substack from writer and editor Rachel León. Loeb’s launch tour comes to Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, on February 25.

Neema Avashia’s “captivating” Another Appalachia is praised for its “nuance and hard-won pride” in a review at Pittsburgh Quarterly, and the audiobook edition earns an equally enthusiastic rave in AudioFile. Avashia will appear on April 13 at Marshall University, where her book has been selected as a campus read.

In the newsletter from 100 Days in Appalachia, Skylar Baker-Jordan reviews William H. Turner’s The Harlan Renaissance, predicting the book “will become a cornerstone of Appalachian literature and of Appalachian studies, influencing writers, researchers, and everyday people for years to come.”

James Lang and Michelle Miller, coeditors of WVU’s series Teaching and Learning in Higher Educationtake to the Chronicle of Higher Education with “Don’t Write Like a Robot,” an essay about authorship and artificial intelligence. Miller also appears on the Learner Engagement Activated podcast.Read More »

Midwinter roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

Kirkus Reviews has an early rave for Courtney Sender’s “compelling” In Other Lifetimes All I’ve Lost Comes Back to Me, which is hailed as “a distinctive debut from a promising author.” Also sharing praise is Foreword Reviews, where Sender’s “brooding, poignant” book is commended for its “sharp humor and imagination.” And Booklist, in a third pre-publication review, credits the title with “bringing to life emotions and connections too unwieldy to define or restrain.” Courtney Sender will launch In Other Lifetimes All I’ve Lost Comes Back to Me at events this spring in Boston and other cities.

Davon Loeb talks with Daily Kos about his “rich, evocative, and surprising” memoir The In-Betweens. It’s named one of 2023’s most-anticipated titles by the News International in Pakistan and by Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum Books. The Jewish Book Council has an excerpt.

Another Appalachia continues to earn best-of-2022 recognition. Neema Avashia’s book is included on the list “The Top 100 Lesbian, Bi, Trans, and Queer Moments of 2022” from GO Magazine, and named one of the year’s bestsellers at Riverstone Books in Pittsburgh and Read Spotted Newt Bookstore in Hazard, KY. Neema Avashia and Davon Loeb will both serve as featured authors at the April writers’ conference from Barrelhouse; registration is now open.

Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, writes in Food & Wine as part of the feature “6 Valuable Lessons Learned around the Dinner Table, According to Award-Winning Food Writers.”

Mark Powell’s “fantastic” Lioness is praised as “a helluva page turner” in Reckon Review.Read More »

New year’s roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

In an essay for the New York Times, Margaret Renkl names two WVU Press books—The Secret Lives of Church Ladies and Appalachian Reckoning—as evidence in support of her thesis that “University Presses Are Keeping American Literature Alive.” Secret Lives also appears on the year-end gift-giving guide from NPR’s Here & Now and (with Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia) on David Joy’s list of annual favorites in Garden & Gun.

In other best-of-2022 news, Another Appalachia is named one of the year’s best books by the New York Public Library (!), Writer’s Bone, Reckon South, and Newtonville Books in Newton, Massachusetts. It is (alongside The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) one of 2022’s bestselling titles at Pittsburgh’s White Whale Books, and it’s featured on the “Ask a Bookseller” segment from Minnesota Public Radio. Book Riot‘s roundup of “The Best LGBTQ+ Books of 2022” has it as the year’s top memoir.

William H. Turner’s The Harlan Renaissance is recommended by Jenisha Watts in the newsletter from the Atlantic: “What I love about this book is that it places Black people in Appalachian history.”

Davon Loeb, author of The In-Betweens, writes in the Los Angeles Times about “How I Learned to Embrace My Black and Jewish Heritage.” His book is named one of 2023’s most anticipated titles in the Chicago Review of Books, and it’s praised in Kirkus as “engagingly delivered, candid reflections on heritage and identity.”

Bratwurst Haven also earns a rave in Kirkus, where it’s called “an excellent collection that’s likely to appeal to fans of Alice Munro and Tobias Wolff—or to anybody with a taste for emotionally resonant short fiction.” Rachel King’s book is a staff pick at Powell’s in Portland, and it’s featured in both North American Review and the Colorado Review.

Courtney Sender’s forthcoming In Other Lifetimes All I’ve Lost Comes Back to Me is recommended as “a stunner from the very first page” in Deesha Philyaw’s “Year in Reading” feature from the Millions.Read More »

Late fall roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

Deesha Philyaw’s remarkable run continues, with further attention for The Secret Lives of Church Ladies in the New York Times and in a feature from author Celeste Ng in Elle magazine. Philyaw is a source for PEN America’s report on Race, Equity, and Publishing, where she talks about publishing with West Virginia University Press. Her work with Freedom Reads, a program for the incarcerated, is written up in Poets & Writers.

Curing Season has a celebratory rollout, including a major review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where Kristine Langley Mahler’s book is praised as “an exquisite, aching memoir of adolescent girlhood.” The title and its author also receive attention in the Chicago Review of Books (“elegant”), Longleaf Review, Brevity (“distinctive”), Atticus Review, the Southern Review of Books, Diagram (“thoroughly inventive”), and Hippocampus. On November 16, Mahler will participate in a panel celebrating University Press Week at the Raven bookstore in Lawrence, KS.

Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia is called “a love letter to Appalachia from a queer perspective” in Book Riot and praised as “stunning” in Pittsburgh Magazine. The author is interviewed at and in Appalachian Review.

Rachel King talks with both Portland television station KOIN and the “Reading With” feature at Shelf Awareness about her new book Bratwurst Haven. King’s tour comes to Morgantown, Baltimore, DC, and Raleigh the week of November 7.

The magazine Science reviews Picture a Professor, saying it “does a service to all who would prefer a different path, offering realistic strategies to engage students in undermining scholarly stereotypes.” Congratulations to Jessamyn Neuhaus and all of the volume’s essayists!Read More »

Mid-fall roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

Foreword Reviews has the first published review of Rachel King’s Bratwurst Haven, which is praised as “an endearing composite portrait of a working class community in transition.” This fall, King will read at a mix of in-person and virtual events in Portland, Pittsburgh, Morgantown, Baltimore, Washington (DC), and Raleigh.

Kristine Langley Mahler’s Curing Season is reviewed in Booklist. “Through careful excavation,” it finds, “Mahler manages to create a time machine harking back to the simplicity and complexity of adolescence in 1990s America.” The author—whose fall tour includes events with bookstores in Asheville, Pittsburgh, and Lawrence—appears in Electric Lit and on Friday Live from Nebraska Public Radio. Her book is recommended as “skillful” and “agile” at the Ploughshares blog.

New accolades continue to arrive for Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia—in Book Riot (“I devoured this beautiful memoir in one day”) and Daily Yonder (“I cannot get enough of Neema Avashia’s collection of essays”). Speaking with the Asheville Mountain Xpress, David Joy praises work by Avashia and others, saying: “I think we’re at a really beautiful moment in literature . . . where we’re finally getting a more complex and fuller understanding of the lives that are lived in this place.” Avashia talks with the Louisville Courier Journal as part of its coverage of the Appalachian Big Ideas Festival.

Charles Dodd White’s A Year without Months lands on the Garden & Gun fall reading list: “Talk about a slim book with a powerful and emotional punch. White wrestles with unfathomable loss, difficult relationships, and the loss of Appalachia, yet somehow finds beauty and truth.” The Rivanna Review is equally supportive, saying: “White is good company, a worthy son of Appalachia.”Read More »

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

Two years after publication, Deesha Philyaw’s award-winning story collection continues to receive accolades, with new praise in the New York Times. “Recently, I count as ideal the books that make me laugh,” says Frances Mayes in the weekly “By the Book” column. “Deesha Philyaw’s raucous The Secret Lives of Church Ladies accomplishes that.”

Kristine Langley Mahler’s Curing Season is reviewed in Shelf Awareness: “These experimental essays about place, home and the failed effort to belong are closely tied to Eastern North Carolina, but will resonate everywhere.” Mahler, who’s on tour this fall, teases her new book in LitHub.

Hippocampus adds to the growing stack of positive reviews for Another Appalachia: “To say that I loved Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia feels like an understatement.” The author will appear in Boone, Hazard, and Charleston this fall.

In the Southern Review of Books, Tom Bredehoft’s Foote is praised as “a quirky good time of a book, one with a delightful flavor of mountain folk mystery.” The author will read from his book—called “immensely bingeable” in Weelunk—at a WVU event on September 15.

Rachel King’s Bratwurst Haven is anticipated in Boulder Weekly as one of the top five books set in Colorado: “King’s writing is as crystal-clear as a bright Colorado day.” The author’s fall tour will take her to cities including Portland, Baltimore, Washington (DC), and Morgantown.Read More »