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Peery Wins 2008 WILLA Award for Contemporary Fiction

"What the Thunder Said," the latest novel by Janet Peery, university professor of English and creative writing at Old Dominion University, has been selected for the 2008 WILLA Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction.

Described as a novella and stories set in the Dust Bowl of 1930s Oklahoma, the book tracks the wayward progress of sisters Mackie and Etta Spoon, who leave home to forge their own separate paths, each setting off in search of a new life, and each finding a fate different than she expected. Through shifting perspectives, voices and characters, Peery follows the sisters, their children and those whose stories intersect with theirs as they range across the high plains of the West in the decades after the Great Depression.

"It is appropriate that Janet Peery be named as a WILLA award winner," remarked Jeffrey Richards, chair of the English department. "Her writing ethos is grounded deeply in the western half of the vast Middle West, a place where duty rides hard over pleasure. We are so grateful to have a writer of her artistry and integrity in the department and benefit from her strong Middle Western sense of obligation to her students."

The WILLA Literary Award honors the best in literature featuring women's stories set in the West published each year. Women Writing the West (WWW), a non-profit association of writers and other professionals writing and promoting the Women's West, underwrites and presents the nationally recognized award annually. The award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather, one of the country's foremost novelists. The awards are presented at the WWW Fall Conference, which will be held Oct. 24-26 at the Colonnade in San Antonio.

A National Book Award finalist, Peery has received National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation fellowships, the Whiting Foundation Writer's Award, citations in "The Best American Short Stories," several Pushcart Prizes and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award.

She is the author also of "Alligator Dance" and "The River Beyond the World," and her fiction appears in Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, Chattahoochee Review, Quarterly West, Blackbird, Shenandoah, American Short Fiction, Southwest Review, Southern Review and other literary journals.

This article was posted on: September 25, 2008

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