Over the Plain Houses is a Crook's Corner finalist
Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks, published by Hub City Press, is one of three finalists for the annual Crook's Corner Book Prize for best debut novel set in the American South. Now in its fourth year, the prize will award $5,000 in January. This year's judge is Mississippi novelist, Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and other works.
The book prize, inspired by famous Parisian cafés long known for their prestigious literary awards, is given jointly by the Crook's Corner Book Prize Foundation and Crook's Corner Café & Bar, the iconic Chapel Hill, North Carolina restaurant widely credited for launching the modern renaissance of Southern cuisine.
The other two finalists are Mulberry (Carolina Wren Press) by Paulette Boudreaux, a native of Mississippi now living in California; and Hide (Bloomsbury) by Matthew Griffin, a native of North Carolina now living in Louisiana.
"We are absolutely thrilled for Julia Franks," said Hub City Executive Director Betsy Teter. Franks, a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University, lives in Atlanta, where she runs loosecanon.org, a web service that encourages free-choice reading in the classroom.
In Over the Plain Houses, in the mountains of North Carolina in 1939, a young wife married to a fundamentalist preacher begins to question her claustrophobic life after she meets a female USDA agent sent by the federal government to enlighten local households. She begins wandering the hills at midnight to avoid her marital bed. The husband becomes convinced that his wife, possibly under the influence of the agent, is engaging in black magic, and resorts to a stunning act of violence.
Working in the stylistic terrain of Robert Eggers’ The Witch – and written with a Southern lyricism that will appeal to fans of Ron Rash and Cormac McCarthy – this stunning debut is "a spellbinding story of witchcraft and disobedience," according to NPR Books.
Franks' book tour has taken her throughout the South and she will next appear at the Decatur Book Festival, the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival, the Southern Festival of Books, and the Women's National Book Association's Bibliofeast in Charlotte.
FROM CROOK'S CORNER:
NOTE ON NEXT YEAR’S PRIZE: The Crook’s Corner Book Prize Foundation will begin accepting submissions for next year’s prize on January 1, 2017. Intended to encourage emerging writers in a challenging publishing environment that seems to change daily, submissions are welcome from self-published as well as traditionally published authors.
DISPLAY CONTEST FOR BOOKSELLERS: Booksellers will be able to enter photos of their Crook's Corner Book Prize Shortlist displays to win a $50 prize, along with an invitation to the announcement party for the winner at Crook's Corner Café & Bar on January 9, 2017. Contest details will be available soon.