October 29, 2010 — University of Virginia poet Debra Nystrom, along with writer Barbara Kingsolver and historian Woody Holton, were named the top winners of the Library of Virginia's annual literary awards.
The awards were announced Oct. 16 at a gala, hosted by novelist Adriana Trigiani, that recognized fiction, poetry, nonfiction and "People's Choice" selections.
Nystrom, a professor of poetry writing in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences' English department, received the poetry prize for "Bad River Road," her third collection of poems. The judges praised the volume as a searching and beautifully composed collection, notable for its ability to make private anguish communicable, while at the same time confronting pressing issues of class, race and culture as they exist in her native South Dakota.
Kingsolver won the fiction prize for her novel, "The Lacuna," and Holton received the nonfiction prize for "Abigail Adams."
The winner of the People's Choice Award in the fiction category was Culpeper County resident Jeannette Walls' true-life novel, "Half Broke Horses"; and in the nonfiction category, "Haunted Plantations of Virginia," by Beth Brown of Richmond.
A panel of independent Virginia booksellers and librarians choose from the list of books nominated for the library's Literary Awards and readers' votes online and in libraries to select the People's Choice Award winners.