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

The publication of Another Appalachia is met with widespread celebration, including attention in Ms. Magazine (“timely”), Scalawag (“graceful”), Still: The Journal (“beautifully rendered”), the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (“Avashia’s Appalachia is many things at once”), and Bitch Media (“evocative and thought-provoking”). The book is named to the lists “24 Must-Read LGBTQ Books Out in March” from Book Riot and “March’s Most Anticipated LGBTQIA+ Literature” from Lambda Literary.

Author Neema Avashia is interviewed at Shelf Awareness, Debutiful, Fiction Advocate, Newfound, and the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Her book tour for Another Appalachia, which receives a mention (and photo!) in the Boston Globe, moves to Pittsburgh, Charleston, Lexington, Washington, New York, and other cities this spring.

Mark Powell’s “emotionally wrenching” novel Lioness gets a starred review in Kirkus: “This politically charged novel is haunting (and haunted) in the best possible way.” Powell, who writes about his experiences in Ukraine for Garden & Gun, will appear on May 5 with Charles Dodd White (author of A Year without Months) at a virtual launch hosted by White Whale Bookstore.

The Harlan Renaissance receives the Weatherford Award for outstanding title in Appalachian studies—the fourth consecutive year that a book from WVU has won in the nonfiction category. Author William H. Turner talks about his book with the podcast Appodlachia.

In other Weatherford news, Nicholas Stump’s Remaking Appalachia is named a finalist in the nonfiction category. Congrats to both authors!Read More »

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

Ghosts of New York, previously celebrated as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, has been named a finalist for the $50,000 Gotham Book Prize for best book set in New York. Congrats to author Jim Lewis!

Mark Powell’s “dark, moody, and mesmerizing” novel Lioness receives a starred review in Foreword Reviews: “Powerful and layered, this is a tour de force.”

Another Appalachia earns a spot on the “Most Anticipated LGBTQ+” list from LGBTQ Reads, gets a mention in Book Riot‘s “22 Great New Books to Read in 2022,” and is called a “sweet, smart memoir” at the Moundsville blog. Neema Avashia will launch her book this spring at events with Porter Square Books, Malaprop’s, White Whale Bookstore, Taylor Books, and more.

A review of Kate Daniels’s Slow Fuse of the Possible from Chapter 16/Humanities Tennessee runs in Nashville Scene and the Chattanooga Times Free Press, where it’s called “a fascinating book” that “offers a new way to think about poetry.” Daniels will appear alongside Major Jackson in a virtual event with New York’s McNally-Jackson Bookstore on February 22.Read More »

Midwinter roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

Titles from WVU Press appear on year-end bestseller lists from City of Asylum Bookstore in Pittsburgh (where The Secret Lives of Church Ladies lands at #1) and at WordPlay in Wardensville, WV (where LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia and Appalachian Reckoning are in the year’s top 20). Many thanks to all the independent booksellers who joined in our success in 2021!

Publishers Weekly has the first published review of Jason Kapcala’s Hungry Town: “With the grit of a western and the crackle of a murder mystery, this finely wrought effort delivers the goods.” Kapcala will launch the book at an event hosted by the WVU Humanities Center and the WVU Leadership Studies Department on February 28.

The Los Angeles Review of Books talks with Joe Trotter, saying he “has helped reshape thinking on class and race in American history.” Trotter’s book African American Workers and the Appalachian Coal Industry is new from WVU Press.

Neema Avashia’s memoir-in-essays Another Appalachia (“defying Appalachian stereotypes, her lessons about class, race, gender, and sexuality begin in childhood”) is anticipated on Autostraddle‘s list of queer and feminist books for winter 2022. The author talks with the Queer Everything podcast.

Tom Beers, editor of Kirkus, praises Deesha Philyaw’s book in Passport Magazine: “We’re definitely seeing more diverse fiction published by houses big and small, especially great stuff from Black writers, many of them debuts. In the past year alone, I’ve loved Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies.” Philyaw is featured on the Craft Talk blog, where Jami Attenberg predicts her fiction “will be taught ten years from now.” City Paper covers Philyaw’s participation, alongside Brian Broome and Damon Young, in the Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit.

Literary Hub features Andrew Keen’s interview with Kate Daniels about her book Slow Fuse of the Possible. Daniels’s launch event at New Dominion Bookshop in Charlottesville receives coverage in the Augusta Free Press.Read More »

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

Jim Lewis’s Ghosts of New York has been named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, one of two titles from university presses honored on the list. John Warner reacts to the Times picks at Substack, “noting little excitements like the fact that West Virginia University Press, which had such incredible success with Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, has scored another notable book with Ghosts of New York.”

Foreword Reviews has one of the first published reviews of Kate Daniels’s Slow Fuse of the Possible, which it calls “a compelling memoir about tense and turbulent experiences within an analysis relationship.” Daniels will launch the book at winter events in Charlottesville and Nashville.

Neema Avashia makes two appearances to talk about her highly anticipated March book Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in Mountain Place—on the podcast Appodlachia, and in a reading with the WVU Humanities Center. Watch for news about Avashia’s launch events in Pittsburgh, Boston, and more.

In a major essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Ryan Boyd discusses Susan D. Blum’s Ungrading: “The book does not just diagnose and criticize: it is a working collection, drawing from both K–12 and college teachers in a range of disciplines.” Blum appears in Times Higher Education, and her book—which is the #1 title on Library Journal’s bestseller list for education—is reviewed in Teaching Sociology. An essay from Slate on the practice of ungrading mentions Blum’s book, saying: “As I read I found myself nodding along so fervently that my neck got sore.”
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Mid-fall roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

William H. Turner’s book The Harlan Renaissance continues its much-celebrated rollout, receiving attention from Inside Appalachia, WYMT television in Hazard, the Lexington Herald Leader, and the Black in Appalachia podcast. In a video posted to social media, W. Kamau Bell teases Turner’s appearance on CNN’s United Shades of America—watch this space for updates!

In the first published review of Kate Daniels’s Slow Fuse of the Possible, Kirkus calls the book a “poignant confessional from an award-winning poet,” saying “Daniels is a keen observer of visceral moments and powerful emotions.”

New York Times bestseller Morgan Jerkins anticipates Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia on The United States of Anxiety from WNYC public radio. She names it one of two books she’s excited for the rest of the world to read, praising Avashia for writing sensitively “about that part of society which is oftentimes narrowed to deleterious stereotypes.”

Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies has been longlisted for the L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize. It receives attention in Deadline Hollywood, the Miami Herald, Library Journal, and Cascadia Weekly. On November 10, Philyaw will participate in an online event celebrating University Press Week hosted by Chicago’s Seminary Coop Bookstore.Read More »

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

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, an essay on John B. Thompson’s Book Wars uses West Virginia University Press to make a point about the state of publishing in an era of corporate consolidation. “University and independent publishers, operating outside the New York–centric Big Five model, create opportunities for writers to get their work out,” writes Jennifer Howard. “For instance, West Virginia University Press published one of last year’s biggest literary successes, the story collection The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw.”

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is also one of two WVU Press titles lauded in Book Riot‘s “20 Must-Read Books from University Presses,” where it’s joined by LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia. And Secret Lives author Deesha Philyaw makes new appearances this month across media—in Ploughshares, the Bitter Southerner, and as part of NPR’s coverage of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. She’ll appear at the festival on September 23.

Foreword Reviews has the first published review of Keegan Lester’s Perfect Dirt, which is deemed “powerful and insightful.” Reviewer Ashley Holstrom finds: “Places are fleshed out alongside people, with West Virginia being the book’s star.”

Chuck Keeney and his book The Road to Blair Mountain are cited widely in reporting on the Blair Mountain Centennial events of Labor Day Weekend. He’s the focus of a segment with Melissa Harris-Perry on WNYC’s The Takeaway, and is featured in Smithsonian Magazine, Facing South, West Virginia Public Broadcasting‘s “Us and Them,” and the Charleston Gazette-Mail. A much-circulated AP piece featuring Keeney is picked up by media in San Francisco, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Winston-Salem, and elsewhere. The New York Times links to Keeney’s book in their coverage of the commemoration.

Also prominent in the Blair Mountain coverage is Anne Lawrence’s book On Dark and Bloody Ground, which is called “magnificent” on the Shabbat reading list from Jewish Currents, and is featured on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, in 100 Days in Appalachia, and in the West Virginia Observer, where it’s described as a “valuable tool to keep this history alive.”Read More »

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

Anne T. Lawrence’s oral history of the Mine Wars, On Dark and Bloody Ground, is excerpted in Harper’s. Lawrence will join fellow WVU Press authors Chuck Keeney, Ginny Savage Ayers, and Catherine Venable Moore at the roundtable “New Books about the Mine Wars” on September 4. The event, which is previewed in the Charleston Gazette Mail, is hosted by Taylor Books as part of the Blair Mountain Centennial celebration. In other Mine Wars news, Chuck Keeney and his book The Road to Blair Mountain are the subjects of a profile from Pittsburgh’s WESA radio.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies has been named a nominee for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in the debut fiction category, with the winner to be announced at a ceremony on October 15. It is praised in Elle Magazine, where Jasmine Guillory writes: “I loved every single one of these short stories.” Deesha Philyaw and her book also receive attention at Boston.com and in Vineyard Gazette, Kirkus, Book Riot, and Revealer (“West Virginia University Press gave Philyaw a book contract and the autonomy to write boldly”). In Poets & Writers, Walton Muyumba connects Philyaw’s success to praise for university press publishing: “After the great success that Deesha Philyaw had publishing The Secret Lives of Church Ladies with West Virginia University Press, we all ought to give more attention and love to university presses.”

Geoffrey Hilsabeck’s American Vaudeville is excerpted in LitHub and reviewed in Broadway Direct, which finds: “Hilsabeck brings the seedy, magical world to life while unraveling its sudden death.”

Berea College Magazine talks with William H. Turner about his forthcoming The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns. “It’s a book only Turner could write,” they say, “and without it, this slice of American culture would be lost forever.” Turner also talks with the Appalachia Meets World podcast.

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Cyndi Kernahan—author of Teaching about Race and Racism in the College Classroom—provides perspective for anxious faculty preparing to teach about race in a politically charged environment.Read More »

Midsummer roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is featured on NPR’s All Things Considered (“Whatever we call the new American short story, I think Deesha Philyaw should name it”), in Book Riot, and in Mississippi Today. As part of the Buzzfeed guide “58 Great Books to Read This Summer,” bookseller Sydne Conant of Madison’s indie bookstore A Room of One’s Own recommends the title. Philyaw’s book is also among several topics addressed in the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s article “A Big Book from a Little Press,” which calls WVU Press “a new publishing heavyweight.”

Jim Lewis’s Ghosts of New York is reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle, where it’s praised as “a collection of connected stories that is so imbued with the city in which it’s set that it could not possibly have taken place anywhere else.”

Chuck Keeney, author of The Road to Blair Mountain, is interviewed in Jacobin and (with Catherine Venable Moore, who introduced our edition of The Book of the Dead) on the podcast from the Smithsonian. Keeney and Moore will be joined by Anne T. Lawrence and Ginny Savage Ayers for the WVU Press showcase “New Books About the Mine Wars,” cohosted with the WVU Humanities Center and Taylor Books, on September 4.

William H. Turner’s forthcoming book is reviewed in Daily Yonder, which says: “One of the oldest and most enduring myths about the Appalachian Mountains is that they are now and always have been overwhelmingly populated by white Scots-Irish. Dr. William H. Turner has written a new book, The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns, that kills that myth about whiteness and, for good measure, buries several more myths as well.” The piece is picked up by 100 Days in Appalachia.Read More »

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

In Slate, Nadia Owusu reports on the publishing story behind Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, quoting the author, WVU Press staff, and others. She finds: “This is the kind of acclaim that most books—much less a short-story collection, much less a debut, much less a debut collection published by a university press—never receive.” John Warner comes to a similar conclusion in the Chicago Tribune, saying: “There is no better publishing story this year.” Philyaw appears in Sojourners, Bitter Southerner, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and Left of Black from Duke University. She moderates a conversation among debut Black writers for Kirkus.

Ghosts of New York, previously reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, lands in the Memorial Day Weekend edition as one of “10 New Books We Recommend This Week.”

Renée Nicholson’s Fierce and Delicate is excerpted in Longreads, and receives a rave in Library Journal, which calls it “an elegant collection of essays from a dancer’s soul that will uplift all readers.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education provides teaching tips from Susan Hrach’s Minding Bodies, new in James Lang and Michelle D. Miller’s series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Hrach also appears on the Think UDL podcast, and her book is joined by others in West Virginia’s series by Jenae Cohn, Joshua Eyler, and Sarah Rose Cavanagh in Tophat‘s “Ultimate Summer 2021 Reading List for Professors.”Read More »

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

In widely reported back-to-back wins, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies has received both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the LA Times Book Prize for first fiction. Author Deesha Philyaw is profiled in the Los Angeles Times, and her book receives mentions in the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly, as well as coverage in Electric Lit, LitHub, the Morgantown Dominion Post, and elsewhere. Publishers Weekly reports that the title is a pick from Goop, the book club from Gwyneth Paltrow. And the newsletter Notes from a Small Press holds up the “deliriously wonderful publishing story” of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies as an antidote to Big Publishing’s woes. Don’t miss the PEN/Faulkner awards ceremony, with sponsors including West Virginia University, on May 10.

Jim Lewis’s “exquisite” Ghosts of New York gets a rave in the New York Times Book Review, which calls it “a wondrous novel, with prose that sparkles like certain sidewalks after rain.” Lewis’s book is excerpted in LitHub, and he’s interviewed by Ruben Martinez on the podcast from Skylight Books in Los Angeles.

For the third consecutive year, a book from West Virginia University Press has received the Weatherford Award for outstanding nonfiction title in Appalachian studies. This year’s winner is I’m Afraid of That Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis, edited by Luke Eric Lassiter, Brian Hoey, and Elizabeth Campbell. It’s praised by the Weatherford judges for setting “a meaningful example from which community-engaged Appalachian studies scholars will draw much inspiration.” Read More »