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Writers' Corner

HISTORICAL WRITERS OF AMERICA ANNOUNCES 2017 AWARD
By * HWI
Posted on 6/13/2017 1:29 PM
The Historical Writers of America will recognize seven artists whose work illuminates the past. The awardees include novelist Larry McMurtry; Larry’s son, songwriter James McMurtry; fantasy writer George R.R. Martin; nonfiction author Hampton Sides; and U.S. Congressman John Lewis, writer Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell, the creative team behind the three-volume graphic novel, March.

HWA created the award, PastWords, to recognize creators who have produced an outstanding body of work. "The awardees represent some of the best writers and artists in America," said HWA Executive Director Theresa Guzman Stokes. "Style-wise, they couldn't be more different. But they all have one thing in common: they bring the past to life."

The awards will be presented at HWA’s annual conference from Sept. 21-24 at the Hyatt Tamaya Resort in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M. The recipients will be recognized during Saturday’s dinner on Sept. 23.

Author Larry McMurtry was an easy pick, said Paul Davis, HWA awards committee chairman. The award-winning author of Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show is the author of more than 50 novels, biographies, screenplays and memoirs. "Paul Newman in “Hud,” Augustus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call on an epic cattle drive, the heartbreaking romance in "Brokeback Mountain"—you can't avoid McMurty's work,” Davis said. “His stories are a part of the American landscape."

The same can be said for bestselling author George R. R. Martin, who has written more than one million words in the five books that make up his ongoing fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire.
Martin has been hailed by critics as the American Tolkien. His Ice and Fire novels have been adapted into the Emmy Award-winning HBO series, "Game of Thrones." "Martin creates a world rich and complex; good and bad are carefully drawn sides, until you turn the page - then all bets are off," said Stokes. "His work has elements of history, fantasy, political intrigue...with a dash of paranormal thrown in for fun."

Acclaimed journalist and author Hampton Sides has written about Kit Carson, North Pole explorer George Washington De Long, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s killer in Blood and Thunder, In the Kingdom of Ice and Hellhound on His Trail. "His interests are wide-ranging--but the results are always impressive," Davis said. "His carefully-researched books unfold like literary thrillers."

Many of the 2017 award-winners live and work in the Southwest, including songwriter and guitarist James McMurtry, whose albums include "Too Long in the Wasteland," "Saint Mary of the Woods" and "Complicated Game." "McMurtry may not seem an obvious choice for a group focused on history," Davis said. "But his characters are often haunted by the past: a vanishing America, the dust kicked up by a Midwest combine, a rekindled romance in the old part of town. Stephen King called him one of America's fiercest songwriters. We agree."

HWA was also impressed by March, the three-volume graphic novel that tells the story of civil rights activist U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. In powerful black and white images, March focuses on Lewis’ experiences in the 1960s, including the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On that day—"Bloody Sunday"—Alabama state troopers, sheriff ’s deputies, and others beat 58 marchers with clubs, bullwhips and tear gas. Lewis suffered a skull fracture. 

"There are graphic novels about Harry Houdini, the Beat poets, and World War II. But March stands out," Davis said. "It's a key part of American history. Its message could not be timelier."