Kentucky Literary Award

KY Literary Award LogoFirst awarded in 2003, the Kentucky Literary Award has been presented annually by the Book Fest Partnership as a celebration of Kentucky literature. Eligible books include those written by Kentuckians or books with a substantial Kentucky theme. Fiction and nonfiction works will be considered in alternating years.

Award Guidelines

Books eligible for the Kentucky Literary Award must have been written by a Kentucky author or have a Kentucky-related theme. A Kentucky author is defined as a writer meeting one or more of the following qualifications: a native-born Kentuckian; an author living in Kentucky; an author whose permanent home address is Kentucky but who does not at present live in Kentucky.

The selection committee welcomes suggestions for consideration; however, the committee determines the finalists for the award. If you have a suggestion for the Kentucky Literary Award, please contact Sara Volpi through the contact link on this website. For full consideration, nominations for the award must be submitted by December 1, 2017, and the book must be a work of fiction published between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017. No self-published, publish-on-demand, non-English, or reprinted book will be considered. Textbooks, children’s books, edited collections, cookbooks, poetry, and anthologies will not be considered.

Procedures: The Kentucky Literary Award Selection Committee will review books that meet the criteria for the award and ultimately determine which works will be considered for the award. No entry fee is required. The Southern Kentucky Book Fest will request review copies of any book that they would like to consider for the award. Additional review copies may be needed for finalists.

Judges: A panel of judges selected by the partners of the Southern Kentucky Book Fest (WKU Libraries, Barnes & Noble, and Warren County Public Library) will consider all finalists. Awards will be granted at the discretion of the Selection Committee. Entries will be judged principally on the quality of the writing, but interpretation, organization, and presentation will also be considered in the decision.

2017 Non-Fiction Award Winner

My Father the Pornographer: A Memoir Cover

The 2017 winner is Chris Offutt for his book, My Father the Pornographer: A Memoir published by Atria Books.

Meet the Author

The winner will be announced at the Meet the Authors Reception held the evening before the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. The winner will be given a commemorative certificate and a cash prize of $500. Tickets to attend the reception are available for purchase online:

2017 Non-Fiction Finalists

Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

J.D. Vance

J.D. Vance grew up in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and served in Iraq. A graduate of the Ohio State University and Yale Law School, he has contributed to the National Review and The New York Times and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC.  

Currently, J.D. works as a principal at a leading Silicon Valley investment firm. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two dogs, Casper and Pippin.

My Father, the Pornographer

My Father, the Pornographer

Chris Offutt

Chris Offutt is an award-winning author and screenwriter. He worked on the HBO drama True Blood and the Showtime series Weeds. His books include Kentucky StraightThe Same River TwiceThe Good BrotherOut of the Woods, and No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home. His work has appeared in The Best American Essays, The Best American Short Stories, and many other anthologies. He lives near Oxford, Mississippi.

Una Merkel: The Actress with Sassy Wit and Southern Charm

Una Merkel: The Actress with Sassy Wit and Southern Charm

Larry Sean Kinder

Professor in the Department of Library Public Services at Western Kentucky University. When he is not indulging his love of classic films, he enjoys participating in church activities, reading, studying art history, learning new languages, and spending quality time with his loving wife and their three spoiled cats: Gracie, Shadow, and Lottie.

All Previous Recipients

2016 – Fiction – Hurry Please, I Want to Know, Paul Griner

2015 – Non-fiction – Mud Creek Medicine: the Life of Eula Hall and the Fight for Appalachia, Kiran Bhatraju

2014 – Fiction – The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

2013 – Non-Fiction – The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event by Dr. James Nicholson

2012 – Fiction – The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason

2008 – 2011 – Award Hiatus

2007 – Fiction – Kentucky Waltz by Garry Barker

2007 – Non-Fiction – Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan

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