LEXINGTON, Ky.—Author Silas House selected a fast-paced Kentucky mystery as the inaugural winner of Transylvania University’s Judy Gaines Young Book Award, which honors a work from the Appalachian region.
“The Next Time You See Me,” the debut novel from Holly Goddard Jones, chronicles a woman’s disappearance in a rural Kentucky town and the secrets its residents are keeping. House—one of Kentucky’s most prominent authors—heaped praise on the novel, calling Jones “one of the best writers working today.”
“I think Jones is doing something very remarkable in this novel because she is combining elements of mystery, sense of place and social commentary in a lyrical book that is also a real page-turner,” he said. “Jones portrays rural people in a dignified and complex way without ever approaching stereotype, revealing the heart and soul of one small Kentucky town (and, ultimately, America) in a vivid cast of characters that become very real to the reader. I was very compelled to read it but also didn’t want it to end so I could luxuriate in the rich sense of place, the provocative themes and the lush language.”
Jones is from Russellville, Ky., and now lives in Greensboro, N.C. She teaches in the creative writing program at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and will visit Transylvania on March 24 at 5 p.m. to give a public reading from her book in Carrick Theater. The selection also comes with a $2,000 cash prize, and a signed copy of the novel will be preserved in the Transylvania Special Collections.
The award was established by Byron Young—a 1961 Transylvania graduate—to honor his wife, who has long been active in the Lexington literary and arts community. A different prominent regional writer will select the award each year.