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SC Arts Commission Press Releases

Spartanburg Writer Named Winner of South Carolina First Novel Prize

June 21, 2012

Media Contact:

Milly Hough
(803) 734-8698

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission and Hub City Press announce Susan Tekulve of Spartanburg as the winner of the 2012 South Carolina First Novel Competition. Tekulve’s novel, In the Garden of Stone (originally titled The Stranger Room), will be published by Hub City Press of Spartanburg and debut at the South Carolina Book Festival in May 2013.


“This novel is a beautifully written saga telling the story of successive generations of a West Virginia family living out their lives in one particular spot of earth,” said competition judge and novelist Josephine Humphreys. “There’s a remarkable sensitivity to the mystery of how place affects human souls, and descriptions of the land are masterful, always interesting and never overdone, integrated seamlessly into the narrative. This is a writer who definitely has what it takes to continue on to more books and make a real contribution to Southern literature.”


Tekulve, an associate professor of English at Converse College, describes her novel this way: “Set in the coal country valleys and mountains of Virginia and West Virginia, the novel is a multi-generational tale about the nature of power and pride, love and loss, and how one family endures estrangement from their land and each other in order to unearth the rich seams of forgiveness.”


Tekulve’s nonfiction, short stories and travel essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Denver Quarterly, Beloit Fiction Journal, The Literary Review and The Georgia Review.  Her story collection, My Mother's War Stories, received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize. Tekulve recently published a short story collection, Savage Pilgrims from Serving House Books.


Other finalists in the biennial competition were Kam Neely of Spartanburg, Mark Sibley-Jones of Greer and Alexis L. Stratton of Columbia. Fifty-five unpublished manuscripts were submitted.


"The First Novel competition gives our state the distinction of awarding one of the few novel prizes in the country and brings national attention to South Carolina as a place with wonderful literary opportunities,” said Sara June Goldstein, literary arts director at the South Carolina Arts Commission. “It is a unique way to appreciate the depth and breadth of the work of our remarkable writers, and then to get the best of that fine writing into the hands of readers.”


The two previous First Novel winners are Brian Ray of Columbia, author of Through the Pale Door (2008), selected by Percival Everett; and Matt Matthews of Greenville, author of Mercy Creek (2010), selected by Bret Lott.


Partnering again with the S.C. Arts Commission and Hub City Press for this competition are The Humanities CouncilSC and the South Carolina State Library


For more information about the First Novel Competition, visit or call www.SouthCarolinaArts.com/firstnovel (803) 734-8696; or www.hubcity.org (864) 577-9349.


Hub City Press

Hub City Press, a nonprofit press in Spartanburg, S.C., has published more than 50 books by regional authors, won eight national IPPY awards from Independent Publisher magazine, is a recipient of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, and has partnered with the S.C. Arts Commission on four previous book projects. For more information, visit www.hubcity.org or call (864) 577-9349.


About the South Carolina Arts Commission:
The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. For more information, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.