North Carolina’s strong literary tradition is celebrated by the 2021 North Carolina Book Awards, presented by the N.C. Literary and Historical Association. The annual awards recognize significant works by North Carolina writers.
Since its founding in September 1900, the N.C. Literary and Historical Association has pledged to stimulate the production of literature and to collect and preserve historical material in North Carolina.
The 2021 North Carolina Book Award winners are:
Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction: Gregory S. Taylor for “Central Prison: A History of North Carolina’s State Penitentiary.” Taylor is a Distinguished Professor of History at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C. In addition to Central Prison, he is the author of James Larkin Pearson: A Biography of North Carolina’s Longest-Serving Poet Laureate, The Life and Lies of Paul Crouch: Communist, Opportunist, Cold War Snitch, and The History of the North Carolina Communist Party.
Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction: Jason Mott for “Hell of a Book: Or the Altogether Factual, Wholly Bona Fide Story of a Big Dreams, Hard Luck, American-Made Kid.” Jason Mott has published four novels. “Hell of a Book” was also awarded the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction. His first novel, The Returned, was a New York Times bestseller and was turned into a TV series that ran for two seasons. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction have appeared in various literary journals.
Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry: Anthony S. Abbott for “Dark Side of North.” Abbott is the author of eight books of poetry, two novels, and four books of literary criticism. He taught in the English department of Davidson College from 1964 to 2006 and was the recipient of the NC Award for Literature from the State of North Carolina in 2015. His first volume of poems, The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat, was published in 1989 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Abbott died on October 3, 2020, one week before his induction into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.
American Association of University Women North Carolina Young People’s Literature Award: Halli Gomez for “List of Ten.” Prior to focusing on writing for children and young adults, Gomez taught martial arts and worked as an intelligence analyst for police departments and federal agencies. “List of Ten” is her debut novel.
Hardee Rives Award for Dramatic Arts: Jim Grimsley, a playwright and novelist. Grimsley was born in Rocky Mount, N.C., attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and taught English at Emory University. Grimsley is the author of both full-length and one-act plays, including Mr. Universe, The Lizard of Tarsus, White People, and The Existentialists. In 1987 he received the George Oppenheimer/Newsday Award for Best New American Playwright for Mr. Universe. His collection of plays, Mr. Universe and Other Plays, was published in 1998 and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for drama.
Christopher Crittenden Memorial Award: Robert G. Anthony. Anthony served as curator of the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries from 1994 to June 2021. As curator, he helped to build what may be the nation’s largest library collection devoted to a single state outside of the Library of Congress. Anthony has authored and edited numerous publications about North Carolina.
Winners’ acceptance remarks are available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0D3Ny2CaPzkdFXP_ww4f1qNb5ROHQ2p2
The Office of Archives and History is within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and administers the North Carolina Book Awards program.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, three science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 41 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the N.C. Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, and the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please visit www.ncdcr.gov.