Category Archives: Kentucky Books

Author Carol Boggess Wins Book Award

KHS Award logoUniversity Press of Kentucky author Carol Boggess has been named the recipient of a 2018 Kentucky History Award given by the Kentucky Historical Society for her book, James Still: A Life. The Kentucky History Awards recognize outstanding achievements by historians, public history professionals, volunteers, business and civic leaders, communities, and historical organizations throughout the Commonwealth, promoting the history of state and local history. The awards were presented at the Kentucky History Awards Ceremony on Friday, November 9, at the Old State Capitol in Frankfort.

Boggess offers a detailed portrait of writer James Still in the definitive biography of the man known as the “dean of Appalachian literature.” Despite his notable output, including the classic novel River of Earth, and his importance as a mentor to generations of young writers, Still was extremely private, preferring a quiet existence in a century-old log house between the waters of Wolfpen Creek and Dead Mare Branch in Knott County, Kentucky. Boggess, who befriended the author in the last decade of his life, draws on correspondence, journal entries, numerous interviews with Still and his family, and extensive archival research to illuminate his somewhat mysterious personal life.

In James Still: A Life, James Still.final.inddBoggess explores every period of the author’s life, from his childhood in Alabama, through the years he spent supporting himself in various odd jobs while trying to build his literary career, to the decades he spent fostering other talents. This long-overdue biography not only offers an important perspective on the Still’s work and art but also celebrates the legacy of a man who succeeded in becoming a legend in his own lifetime. According to Lee Smith, author of Dimestore: A Writer’s Life, Boggess’s “graceful and informative biography sheds light into many shaded places and dark rooms of his long life, illuminating the sources and passions of this beloved giant of American literature, one of the greatest writers of all time.”

James Still is the seventh University Press of Kentucky publication in eight years to win a KHS award, joining Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front by David J. Bettez; The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia by Gerard L. Smith, Karen Cotton McDaniel, and John A. Hardin; Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South by T.R.C. Hutton; The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event by James C. Nicholson; A History of Education in Kentucky by William E. Ellis; and Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802-1920 by Estill Curtis Pennington. James Still was previously named the winner of the 2018 Weatherford Award for Non-Fiction.

Carol Boggess is president of the Appalachian Studies Association and former English professor at Mars Hill University.

Boggess KHS award pic

KHS Executive Director Scott Alvey, Carol Boggess, and KHS Governing Board President Constance Alexander. Photo by Marvin Young.

 

Advertisements

Give the Gift of Reading This Holiday Season!

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 10.13.41 AM.png

A Girl’s A Gun by Rachel Danielle Peterson, 50% off

As the holiday season quickly approaches, what better gift to give your loved ones than a book. The University Press of Kentucky is pleased to announce the start of their 2018 Holiday Sale, which is the perfect opportunity to purchase affordable, yet thoughtful, presents for everyone on your list. With special pricing and discounts up to 75%, this sale is a wonderful chance to stock up for the holidays. Most 2018 titles are 40% off, while older releases are 50% off. In addition, select new releases and special titles have set markdowns of $5–$10. There are books for history fans, film enthusiasts, military buffs, and many more, especially Kentuckians interested in regional titles. With such a broad selection, there are sure to be books that will please even the most hard-to-buy-for people on your list.

fitzgerald_final.jpg

The Struggle is Eternal by Joseph R. Fitzgerald, 40% off

Among the featured titles are new and recent releases in fiction, Amreekiya: A Novel, Make Way for Her: And Other Stories, Patchwork: A Bobbie Ann Mason Reader, and The Birds of Opulence. Authored by women writers and featuring female protagonists, these books speak to the human experience and describe interpersonal relationships in striking ways. Black Bone: 25 Years of the Affrilachian Poets and Mend: Poems are recent collections that lend voice to marginalized groups—African-American writers from Appalachia and female slaves subjected to medical experimentation without their consent.

larocca_final.jpg

The Philosophy of War Films edited by David LaRocca, 40% off

For those interested in Kentucky history, Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape, Forty Minutes to Glory: Inside the Kentucky Wildcats’ 1978 Championship Season, and A New History of Kentucky, second edition are featured. Named the 2018 Thomas D. Clark Medallion Book, Elkhorn chronicles the rich history and culture surrounding Elkhorn Creek, the second largest tributary of the Kentucky River. As basketball season begins, Forty Minutes to Glory is the perfect title for every member of the Big Blue Nation. The second edition of A New History of Kentucky is a revised and updated volume of the flagship history of the state history that brings the Commonwealth’s story into the twenty-first century.

Regional favorites like Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon, The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, and The Beer Cheese Book are also included in this sale. The University Press of Kentucky is offering free shipping on orders over $75 in honor of their 75thanniversary. To view a full list of the titles featured in this promotion, visit www.kentuckypress.com. Orders should be placed by December 1 to guarantee Christmas delivery, and sale prices are valid through January 31, 2019. To order visit www.kentuckypress.com or call 800-537-5487 and use the discount code FHOL.

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 10.13.04 AM.png

Miriam Hopkins by Allan R. Ellenberger, 50% off

The University Press of Kentucky (UPK) is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and was organized in 1969 as successor to the University of Kentucky Press. The university had sponsored scholarly publication since 1943. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production, and marketing departments are found at the University of Kentucky; however since the 1969 reorganization, the Press has represented a consortium that now includes all of Kentucky’s state universities, five of its private colleges, and two historical societies.

A Look at the Kentucky Book Fair on November 17

KBF_2018_UPK_ProgramAd.jpgNow in its thirty-seventh year, the Kentucky Book Fair is expanding to become the signature piece of a larger event, the Kentucky Book Festival. Organized by Kentucky Humanities, the Kentucky Book Festival will span from November 12 to 17 and involve six days full of literary events around Lexington, culminating in Kentucky Book Fair on November 17 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. The fair will feature more than 180 authors, including over twenty-five who have been published by University Press of Kentucky (UPK):

 

 

In addition to authors who will be signing their books on the main arena floor on November 17, the Kentucky Book Fair will host a series of panel discussions and presentations for authors and readers alike on the main stage and in breakout rooms that day. Several panels include UPK authors eager to share their work:

The Kentucky Book Festival will be holding a series of events throughout the week at several different locations around Lexington. The events include readings, cocktail parties, trivia, and more:

  • Monday, November 12, 6:30 to 8:00 pm—The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning will host “New Kentucky Poetry & Prose” with readings by Willie Davis, UPK author Jeremy Paden, Robert Gipe, and Maureen Morehead. Free and open to the public; no tickets required.
  • Tuesday, November 13, 12:00 to 2:00 pm—ArtsPlace will host “A Literary Luncheon with Silas House” featuring him reading from his new novel Southernmost. Tickets are required and available for $40 at kyhumanities.org; seating is limited.
  • Friday, November 16—Jonathan S. Cullick, author of Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men: A Reader’s Companion, will teach a KBF Master Class on the basic rhetoric principles of persuasion and how to use them to more than 300 students. This event is for preregistered students and not open to the public.

Dedicated to honoring the profession of writing and to providing a format for authors to meet their reading public, the Kentucky Book Fair attracts thousands of avid readers and patrons nationwide. Featuring a broad range of titles including children’s books, military history, mystery, nature, fiction, and nonfiction, the fair attracts promotes reading across genres and age levels. Founded in 1981, the Kentucky Book Fair is the state’s leading literary event.

A full list of Kentucky Book Festival activities can be found on the Kentucky Humanities website.

An International Taste of Home Flavors

You know what November means? It means red, orange, and yellow leaves. It means scarves and chilly mornings. It means getting those coupons ready for Black Friday so you can get a great deal on some future presents.

But, above all else, November means giving thanks over a splendid meal on Thanksgiving evening.

We borrowed two delicious recipes from Flavors from Home: Refugees in Kentucky Share Their Stories and Comfort Foods, Revised Edition by Aimee Zaring to get everyone in the mood for some Thanksgiving cooking! In addition to sharing recipes from all across the world, Flavors from Home offers fascinating and moving stories from Kentucky’s resettled refugees, giving readers the chance to understand the courage and hardships of the tens of thousands of legally resettled refugees that use the kitchen to be able to return “home.”


Irene’s Chicken Paprikás

Chicken paprikás (PAP-ree-cahsh) is a classic Hungarian comfort food. Hungarians generally use a combination of dark and white chicken meat in their paprikás, but for a healthier version, substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders.

Serves 4 to 6

Ready in about 45 minutes

Image 01 Irene Finley

“Anything could have happened to us, but God had a purpose for my life.” –Irene Finley

5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 1⁄2 teaspoons sweet paprika (preferably Hungarian)
Ground cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 whole chicken, separated into legs, thighs, wings, etc.
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream (preferably regular) 1⁄4 cup all-purpose our
1⁄2 cup 2 percent milk

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Over medium heat, sauté onion until translucent. Add paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pep- per. Stir to combine. Add chicken and just enough water to cover.Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low heat. Cook with the lid partially covering the pan until the chicken becomes tender, about 30 minutes or less. (For chicken tenders, adjust the cooking time to 15 to 18 minutes.) Stir occasionally. Make sure not to overcook the chicken. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and set aside. Reserve the liq- uid and keep it warm over low heat. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil to keep it warm.


CoCo’s Soft Spring Rolls and Peanut Sauce

Spring rolls are a traditional and ubiquitous appetizer in Vietnam. Serve them at your next party and impress your friends, but keep in mind that spring rolls dry out quickly and are meant to be eaten right away. They also make a light, delicious, healthy meal.

Serves 8 to 10 (makes about 25 to 30 spring rolls)

Ready in about 1 hour and  45 minutes

Coco's Spring rolls 2

“I love to create. I love to bring the new idea to this town.” –Huong “CoCo” Tran

Spring Rolls

1 (8-ounce) package thin rice noodles (or rice vermicelli)
Olive oil for sautéing
2 carrots, shredded
1 to 2 celery stalks, cut in half lengthwise and on the bias 1 small head white cabbage, shredded
Salt and pepper
1 pound firm tofu (1 16-ounce package)
1⁄2 pound vegetarian mock (meatless) ham (optional)
1 (12-ounce) package rice paper (9-inch diameter)
Fresh mint or basil leaves
Peanut Sauce
11⁄4 to 2 cups hoisin sauce
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce
1⁄2 to 1 cup hot water
Ground peanuts (optional)
To Prepare the Spring Roll Filling
Boil enough water for the amount of rice noodles being used (refer to package directions). Cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the noodles are softened. Rinse with cool water, drain well, and set aside.
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a fry pan (preferably non- stick) over medium-high heat. Stir-fry carrots, celery, and cabbage until soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer vegetables to a plate or storage container to cool until ready to use.

Clean out the same fry pan and heat enough oil to cover the bot- tom over medium-high heat. (Make sure the pan is very hot before fry- ing.) Drain tofu of excess moisture. Cut tofu blocks widthwise into about 7 or 8 (1⁄2-inch-thick) slices. Fry the tofu slices until lightly brown on both sides, 5 to 10 minutes per side. Flip only once for best results. Remove and transfer to paper towels to remove excess oil, if desired.

If using vegetarian ham, slice and pan-fry like the tofu, adding more oil as needed. Transfer to paper towels to remove excess oil, if desired.
Cool all filling ingredients before assembling the spring rolls.
To Prepare the Peanut Sauce
In a medium bowl, combine hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and cayenne pepper to taste. (For a slightly sweeter sauce, add more peanut butter. For less sweetness, add more hoisin sauce and hot pepper.) Add hot water, a little at a time, until the ingredients are well mixed and the texture is smooth and creamy and of the preferred consistency. Serve cool or at room temperature. Garnish with ground peanuts just before serving. Store left- overs in the refrigerator.
To Assemble the Spring Rolls
Take one sheet of rice paper and quickly dip it into a large bowl of warm water (for about 2 to 3 seconds), making sure it is completely immersed. If you’re using a shallow bowl, you may need to rotate the paper. (Do not leave the paper in the water too long, or it will break down too quickly and be harder to roll.) Remove the paper (it should still be slightly firm) and hold it over the bowl to let the excess water drip off . Place the paper on a clean counter, a sheet of plastic wrap, or a plastic cutting board. (The paper will continue to soften and become gelatinous as it absorbs water during assembly.)
Place 1 tablespoon of the cooled vegetable filling in the middle of the rice paper, spreading it out lengthwise (to approximately 31⁄2 to 4 inches). Top the vegetables with about 1 tablespoon of tofu and ham (2 to 4 pieces), followed by 1 tablespoon of rice noodles and 2 mint or basil leaves. Do not overstuff to avoid tearing the paper.

Fold the end of the rice paper closest to you over the filling. Make sure the filling ingredients are tucked in, then fold in the sides. Slowly roll the rice paper away from you, keeping the ingredients tight and the edges straight, until the paper ends. Transfer to a serving plate, seam side down. Repeat the wrapping process until all the spring rolls and filling have been used.

Serve cold or at room temperature with peanut sauce. These are best served immediately or within an hour of making; otherwise, the rice paper will dry out. To keep them fresh, wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap, or store them in a single layer in a lightly oiled airtight container. Use plastic wrap to divide multiple layers so the rolls won’t stick together and tear. Keep refrigerated.

A Conversation with Lena Mahmoud, Author of Amreekiya

Screen Shot 2018-10-22 at 11.36.55 AM.png

Photo courtesy of Lena Mahmoud 

In Amreekiya: A Novel, author Lena Mahmoud deftly juggles two storylines, alternating between Isra’s youth and her current life as a married twentysomething who is torn between cultures and trying to define herself. The chapters chronicle various moments in Isra’s narrative, including the volatile relationship of her parents and the trials and joys of forging a partnership with Yusef. Mahmoud also examines Isra’s first visit to Palestine, the effects of sexism, how language affects identity, and what it means to have a love that overcomes unbearable pain. Featuring an authentic array of characters, Mahmoud’s first novel is a much-needed story in a divided world.

 

Lena Mahmoud was nominated for Pushcart Prizes for her story “Al Walad” and her essay “The Psyche of a Palestinian-American Writer” and was shortlisted for the OWT Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sinister Guru, KNOT Magazine, Pulp Literature, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Sukoon.


What first drew you to writing? Was there a specific moment or experience that made you want to become a novelist?Mahmoud_Amreekiya_Design7.indd

As a child I had a very active imaginary life. I often played out stories in my room or
backyard, but I didn’t start writing until I was eleven. I wasn’t much of a reader before that; I didn’t like most of what I read in school because to me it was boring and so homogenous, but when I read Janet Fitch’s White Oleander, about a girl who lives in many foster homes after her mother’s imprisonment—something much different from the cookie cutter chapter books I had been assigned in school—it made me think that knowing someone else’s story can enrich a reader’s life and make them see things differently. I thought that it would be such a great thing if I could do that, and I had always liked thinking up stories and acting them out. When I wrote them, though, I found that I could also make the story better by revising or rewriting it, so I have stuck with it for almost two decades now.

The dual narrative structure is one of the most intriguing facets of Amreekiya. Why did you choose to juxtapose the story of Isra’s childhood alongside her life as a married woman?

Isra’s adult chapters were the first part that I wrote, and I always intended to somehow explain the backstory of her losing her mother and being abandoned by her father. In the early drafts, I wrote out prologues and epilogues to give this backstory, and they just didn’t work for the novel. Then I started to explore Isra’s past more and more. I thought that showing how she and her husband Yusef first met and what it was like growing up with Amu Nasser and Amtu Samia really made the novel more developed. I didn’t want to do it as a completely linear narrative because the past never really goes away; the memories cling to our minds and influence our decisions. By having the two narratives happen concurrently, it more clearly revealed how the past affected the present.

Explain the significance of the title.

While the word “Amreekiya” technically means American in Arabic, it is often used colloquially to mean “white girl” or “white women.” In the novel it’s most often applied to Isra’s mother, but sometimes to Isra as well. I think, ultimately, that it represents a concern that a lot of the characters have: how “American” should they be? It’s most obvious in the case of the younger generation like Isra and Yusef, who wonder about how they would be judged for using birth control, but the older generation also must confront this issue, like Amu Nasser does when he returns to Palestine and is judged for how “American” his children act.

How have your personal experiences inspired or shaped Isra’s story?

I am mixed like Isra is, and a lot of the narratives I saw about people who were part white/part any Middle Eastern ethnicity seemed to always be about that person shedding their ties to whatever Middle Eastern culture s/he belonged to and trying to be as white as possible. I thought that was both unrealistic and dangerous standard to set for people like Isra and me, so I wanted to write a story to show that it’s more complicated and that it’s not necessary to choose between the two cultures, though that is often what others pressure mixed people to do. I didn’t want to write a memoir, though, because I wanted to show what it must be like for someone who does not have any friends or family who understand that sense of in-betweenness. In my case, I have three full siblings who are mixed like me (as well as five siblings from my parents’ previous and subsequent relationships), and I had the advantage of growing up and knowing my parents much better than Isra ever had a chance to know hers. Isra does have close connections to some people like Hanan, Sana, and Yusef, but they see her as being just like them without truly acknowledging that Isra’s ethnic background and experience are somewhat different. Of course, there are people at the other extreme, like Amtu Samia, who see Isra as being completely different, which is even more detrimental.

Amreekiya deals extensively with the intertwined issues of race, class, and gender. Did you set out to confront these topics, or were they a natural outgrowth of the story itself?

Yes, it was my intention to demonstrate how race, class, and gender affect the characters, especially Isra, because I think that too often we think of those as being abstract social or political constructs without considering that they have a strong influence on our everyday lives. Like many writers who come from marginalized communities, I have often heard from various people in the literary community that highlighting these issues make it less universal, but I do not agree with that view. Even if we are unaware of how our place in society or a particular community affects our lives, it still impacts what we become and what sort of lives we lead or will lead, so it much more accurately depicts our lives to see how race, class, and gender play role, rather than making it as invisible as we possibly can. With that being said, I also didn’t want to make Amreekiya a novel that had a heavy-handed political message telling my readers what to think. Instead, I wanted to tell a story that raised questions for my readers to think about.

Isra’s story is left fairly open-ended at the conclusion of the novel. Why did you choose to leave the status of Isra’s marriage and future ambiguous? Do you see yourself ever revisiting her narrative?

At one point I had a tidier ending for Amreekiya, but in all the years of revising and rewriting it, I thought that it didn’t make sense for Isra to have her life figured out by twenty-four. She still has the conflict of trying to figure out which options would be better for her. Should she live on her own? Should she resume her life as it was with Yusef or possibly pursue a different path with him? Of course, there are still all the expectations of the people around her as well, which is a force that will never go away. As for revisiting Isra’s narrative, I don’t have any plans to do it now, but I do sometimes find myself considering what she would be doing now, so I haven’t ruled that out.

Clark Medallion Event featuring Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape

Topophilia, the love of place, is what drives Richard Taylor. Through his love of Elkhorn Creek and his gift of storytelling, Taylor’s new release, Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape, presents readers with a powerful picture of a location that has impacted so many with its natural beauty. Filled with photographs, illustrations, and vignettes detailing this creek and its surrounding wonders, Taylor’s book gives readers a sense of why there is such a pull to this majestic landscape. 

Elkhorn is the 2018 winner of the Thomas D. Clark Medallion. The Clark Medallion is presented by the Thomas D. Clark Foundation Inc., a private nonprofit established in 1994. The medallion is presented annually to a book highlighting the state of Kentucky’s history and culture.

In honor of Taylor and his new release, an award presentation, reception, and book signing will be held at 5:30 pm Wednesday, September 26 in the River Room at the Paul Sawyier Library in Frankfort. The event will be hosted by Kentucky Humanities, Nana Lampton, the Paul Sawyier Public Library, and the Thomas  D. Clark Foundation.

Taylor_TrueFinal_Medallion“Count among the Elkhorn’s fans white-water enthusiasts who mount kayaks on their roof racks and often drive considerable distances to glide along its rough-edged spine. Or the fishermen who wade into sun-lucent pools as they might approach a spiritual or religious experience. And the rest of us, near and far, who love nearly pristine places, land that hasn’t been subdivided into suburban citadels with a few acres of tamed lawns or converted into cultivated fields that productively but monotonously generate nicotine or a single food crop to the impoverishment of nature and local soils,” Taylor writes in Elkhorn.

The Clark Medallion event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Click here for more information.

 

Kentucky Novelist, UK Professor Enjoys Sweet Peach of a Summer

“Another sweaty summer presents itself like a gift. Sun is a peach outside the window, grass all calmed down.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 10.45.29 AM

University Press of Kentucky author Crystal Wilkinson has had a summer of gold. From her novel, The Birds of Opulencebeing named the winner of the 2016 Appalachian Writers Association‘s Appalachian Book of the Year for Fiction to Wilkinson herself being appointed as the 2018 Clinton and Mary Opal Moore Appalachian Writer-in-Residence at Murray State University, Wilkinson has spent the hot summer months earning both professional and personal honors.

Birds follows four generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with—and sometimes surrender to—madness. The book hones in on the hopeful and sometimes tragic navigation of life as seen through the eyes of the Goode-Brown family. This marks the fourth award The Birds of Opulence has won, including the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, the Weatherford Award for Fiction, and the Judy Gaines Young Book Award. Wilkinson’s novel was also named the debut selection of the Open Canon Book Club, which was created by New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash to introduce readers to varied voices and portrayals of the American experience.

Birds is not the only one of Wilkinson’s books that has gotten attention this summer. Her second short story collection, Water Street, has been selected as the One Book Read at West Kentucky Community and Technical College. The program is a community-wide effort to help eliminate illiteracy in the region, with faculty and staff at WKCTC collaborating with many local and college partners to promote reading.

WATER STREET

Wilkinson’s work has earned her personal honors as well. The Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Committee and the West Virginia Center for the Book selected her for the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award. Previous recipients include Henry Louis Gates, Charles Frazier, Frank X Walker, Denise Giardina, and Silas House. In conjunction with the award, she will be the One Book, One West Virginia Author for 2019, and Water Street will be read by students across the state.

In addition, Wilkinson has gained speaker representation from Authors Unbound, which will broker her events in the form of literary engagements, one book programs, distinguished lectures, keynote appearances, community visits, and a variety of signature events.

Pictured at the top is Wilkinson sitting on a book bench designed by Bowling Green artist Lora Gill. Book Benches: A Tribute to Kentucky Authors is a public art project that features book-shaped benches, each themed around a different work by a Kentucky author, that have been placed around Lexington as a way to encourage reading. Wilkinson’s bench will be installed along South Limestone Street in front of the University Press of Kentucky office in November.

To top it off, Wilkinson accepted a new position as Associate Professor of English in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of Kentucky. Further information on Crystal Wilkinson, her books, and her upcoming events can be found on her new author website: https://www.crystalewilkinson.net/.

From all of us at Kentucky Press, congratulations on a wonderful summer, Crystal!