The award, given annually to a fiction novel set in the South (IF JACK'S IN LOVE is set in Virginia), was established in honor of award-winning author Willie Morris in 2007. According to the award's website, the winning novel is selected for its embodiment of that which Willie Morris himself praised: "hope for belonging, for belief in a people's better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive." Furthermore, the novel is selected based on "the quality of its prose, its originality, its sense of place and period, and the appeal of its characters."
The award ceremony will take place in October at The New York Yacht Club, where Wetta will receive the award and speak about the book.
IF JACK'S IN LOVE has received glowing praise since its release in September 2011. Just in case you've missed them before, a sampling of some of the book's excellent reviews are below. To read more of our posts on Wetta and his debut book, follow this link.
"A wonderfully written marvel of a book: a work both gripping and hilarious, joyous and heartbreakingly bittersweet." --The Wall Street Journal, named a top 10 title for 2011
"Populated with richly realistic characters, Wetta's first novel of 1960s backdrops and prejudices is propulsive...Jack is a charming narrator...and, with a lot of truth and even a little magic, his supporting cast sparks restrainedly." --Booklist
"Wetta has written a coming-of-age novel set in 1967 that is at once dark, witty, and charming." --Shelf Awareness
"Deftly, Wetta illuminates the gulf between the innocence of age 12 and the realizations that arise at 13...At turns unsparing, tender, and disturbing when it comes to rivalry and the nuances of love versus obligation, this is no typical bildungsroman...Intelligently, wonderfully conceived." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"An auspicious debut...A moving portrait of a specific time, family, and town, but also a universal story of growing up and coming to terms with the people--and places--that raise us, told with all the humor, truth, and urgency of its teenage hero." --BookPage
"A debut novel not to miss...IF JACK'S IN LOVE has that spark of a writer who fully invests himself and writes with a startlingly bittersweet humor, infusing his first novel with a tinge of something special." --About.com, named a top 10 book of 2011
"The real emotion--the book's raw and complicated heart--is actually hidden inside the Witcher home...[Jack] is vulnerable and victimized by an identity he should be able to disavow but cannot. Even so, Wetta allows us to see Jack's potential--the person he could and should become, if only he'd embrace it. Whether he does is what keeps us gripped until the end." --The Daily Beast, listed as a Great Weekend Read
Amy Einhorn Books/Penguin, September 2011