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Kim Wright accepted this year's Willie Morris Award for Southern Literature at the New York City Yacht Club on Oct. 23. She read briefly from Last Ride to Graceland (Simon & Schuster) and gave a speech, though I hesitate to use the term “speech” because it sounds stultifying and dry and Kim’s talk was the opposite: funny and interesting. She had the crowd’s attention, not an easy feat after a lively cocktail party.


A former journalist, Kim has written several novels, all set in the South. What makes this region so unique? The oral traditions of storytelling, for one thing, she said. The confessional come-up-on-the porch and listen to this.

She also noted the influence of the King James Bible on the cadences in speech and narratives. 

About the Willie Morris Award: Named in honor of the acclaimed Southern writer and editor, Willie Morris, the award recognizes a novel that reflects the spirit of Morris’s work. Reba Williams, co-sponsor of the award with her husband Dave, was inspired to recognize and spotlight works set in one or more Southern states by Southern writers that embody, in Morris's words, “hope for belonging, for belief in a people’s better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive.”

Interested in nominating books for next year’s Willie Morris Award? The award comes with an expense-paid trip to New York City and $10,000. The deadline is in March. More info:

For next year’s award, publishers and authors are invited to send one copy of a book published in 2017 to:

Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction
654 Madison Avenue, Suite 703
New York, NY 10065
For additional information, inquire via email: