Ann Weisgarber's The Personal History of Rachel DuPree (Viking), a story about a black pioneer family eking out a difficult living in the South Dakota Badlands in 1917, is this year's winner. The prize is awarded annually to the "best book in American historical fiction that is both excellent fiction and excellent history."
I talked to Ann about her novel in 2009, before it was picked up by an American publisher, and am so pleased to see the accolades it's been receiving.
Robin Oliveira's My Name Is Mary Sutter (also Viking), another standout debut novel, was named an Honorable Mention. Oliveira's work examines the life of a determined midwife from Albany, New York, who heads south to Washington, DC, during the Civil War to pursue her dreams of becoming a surgeon. [My review, from Booklist, at her literary agency's website]
Director's Mentions went to Kelli Carmean for Creekside: An Archeological Novel (University of Alabama Press), a multi-period tale set on a family farm in eastern Kentucky, and Jackson Taylor for The Blue Orchard (Simon & Schuster), about a woman living through tremendous social changes in Depression-era Pennsylvania.
Congratulations to the authors and their publishers. Also of note: one of the Director's Mentions for 2009, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman's self-published In the Lion's Den, has been picked up by Ballantine for release this April. The new title will be Broken Promises.