Renowned Kentucky author Silas House received the Transylvania University’s 2019 Judy Gaines Young Book Award for his novel “Southernmost.” The annual award recognizes outstanding recent works by writers in the Appalachian region.
House is a nationally-known, best-selling author originally from Lily. House, who now lives in Berea, has remained an advocate for Appalachia throughout his life, which he often shows in his novels.
House will give a free, public reading from “Southernmost” at 7:30 p.m. March 19 in Transylvania’s Carrick Theater.
The Wrigley Taproom and Eatery hosted a book reading by Silas House in August 2018 where he read an excerpt from “Southernmost.” Afterwards he held a book signing where he shook hands with fans of the hometown favorite novelist and quickly sold out of the copies of his newest novel he had on hand.
A New York Times bestselling author, House’s novels include “Clay’s Quilt” and “A Parchment of Leaves.” His many other writing honors include Nautilus and EB White awards. For his social justice work, he received the Intellectual Freedom Prize from the National Council of English Teachers, according to a press release from Transylvania University.
House admitted in a previous question-and-answer session with the Times-Tribune he knew he was going to be a writer since the seventh-grade with books like “The Outsiders” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” impacting his early life. As he got older, writers like Willa Cather, Thomas Hardy, Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston became major inspirations for House.
“Southernmost” was one of the top picks of 2018 for magazines such as The Advocate, Southern Living, Booklist, Paste and Garden and Gun. Additionally, the American Library Association selected it as one of the 10 best book club books of the year.
“In this stunning novel about judgment, courage, heartbreak, and change, author Silas House wrestles with the limits of belief and the infinite ways to love,” according to publisher Algonquin Books.
A major theme explored in “Southernmost” is tolerance, which comes up after a major flood inundates a small Tennessee town and an Evangelical preacher gives shelter to two gay men.
When writing "Southernmost" House said he didn't have a particular audience in mind but he always writes a book that he would want to read. He said he didn't want to be preaching to the choir.
"The book examines some really complex and divisive issues and I wanted to write about them in such a way that anyone with an open heart could be challenged and changed by reading it," House said about the book.
This particular award is special for House as it comes from home.
"For the book to be chosen as the best book published about the region over the last year means a lot to me," House added. "Also, I love it's an award given by one family in memory of a writer; I've met the Young family before because of their literary activism and I'm honored to be a part of their legacy."
Maurice Manning, professor of English and Transylvania writer in residence, said the novel “asks a brave question: Is there a limit to love or to faith? Quietly and in beautiful prose the novel answers the question. This is simply the kind of writer Silas is—courageous, open, curious. His novels are sources of discovery and wisdom.”