Not too long ago, a patron requested a book she had to read for her book group - it had something to do with "mud." That's most of what she could remember..."mud" was in the title (maybe), and it may have won an award - it could be newish, and maybe had a female author, but she wasn't sure.
I actually found the book she was looking for! Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.
Well, she was pretty sure that was the book. I was proud of myself for coming up with that title, at any rate.
It fit all the criteria - published recently (2008), woman author, has "mud" in the title, and it was the winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction (2006), NAIBA Book of the Year - Fiction (2008), ALA Alex Award (2009). I had never heard of the Bellwether Prize, and so I started researching that.
It's a prize that was started by Barbara Kingsolver in 2000. It's given for "socially engaged fiction." Now, I had heard of Barbara Kingsolver, and have thought her books sounded pretty interesting, but I've never been intrigued enough to actually read one. But maybe now I will.
Barbara Kingsolver, herself, seems like an interesting person. According to her website, she was named one the most "important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest. In 2000 she received the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Critical acclaim for her books includes multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association, among many others". And she is known for her fiction as well as her non-fiction works - I've heard people rave about both. I love the idea of her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:
Hang on for the ride: With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it.
It reminds me of some other books about city folk uprooting themselves and going on adventures in the country, on the farm. That seems to be a big thing these days, the transplants planting crops. But it's a good thing - raising awareness about the food we eat can only help us and our environments.
Other city-to-farm stories:
The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball
Read more about the author and her farm at http://www.kristinkimball.com.
The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels
by Ree Drummond
See more here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/
Righteous Porkchop : finding a life and good food beyond factory farms
by Nicolette Hahn Niman
More information at http://www.righteousporkchop.com/
And if you just can't wrap your head around the idea of being inspired to move to a farm, plant a vegetable garden, or raise your own chickens, then just buy one of these hen footstools and call it a day.
Working on your novel?
PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Founded by Barbara Kingsolver
The Bellwether Prize, which was established in 2000 by Barbara Kingsolver and is funded entirely by her, was created to promote fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships.
Beginning in 2012, the $25,000 prize will be awarded biennially to the author of a previously unpublished novel of high literary caliber that exemplifies the prize’s founding principles. The winner will also receive a publishing contract with Algonquin Books, which will be the participating publisher for at least the next two awards cycles. The first PEN/Bellwether Prize will be conferred at PEN’s Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City in the fall of 2012.