Karen Osborn, this year’s Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University and a 1979 Hollins graduate, and Shelby Smoak M.A. ’99 have each received a 2013 Independent Publisher Book Award gold medal for their latest work.
The “IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996 and designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers, honored Osborn in the Popular Fiction category for her novel, Centerville (West Virginia University Press), and Smoak took top prize in the Autobiography/Memoir III (Personal Struggle/Health Issues) category for Bleeder: A Memoir (Michigan State University Press).
Set in the summer of 1967, Centerville (which shared the gold with All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta) is the story of how the bombing of a small Midwestern town’s drugstore alters the lives of the community’s residents. The book is based on an incident that occurred during Osborn’s own youth and explores how a small town copes with a senseless act of violence.
Osborn is the author of three other novels: Patchwork, Between Earth and Sky, and The River Road. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in journals nationwide, including The Southern Review, Kansas Quarterly, Clapboard House, Poet Lore, Wisconsin Review, New England Watershed, and The Centennial Review. Her grants and awards include fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and a Notable Book of the Year Award from The New York Times.
In Bleeder, Smoak, a hemophiliac, discovers at the start of his college career that he has been infected with HIV during a blood transfusion. This devastating news leads him to see his world from an entirely new perspective, one in which life-threatening illness is perpetually just around the corner.
Smoak’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in journals and magazines such as Northern Virginia Review, Clues, Cucalorus, Juice, The Crutch, New Thought Journal, Cities and Roads, and Coastal Plains Poetry.