Penn/Bellwether Prize. Do I Have a Chance???

Posted: June 15, 2018 in World On The Edge

The manuscript of my newest and unpublished novel, ABSENCE, has been submitted for the Penn/Bellwether Prize, an award begun by best-selling author, Barbara Kingsolver, “The Poisonwood Bible.” The $25,000 prize is awarded biennially to the author of a previously unpublished novel of high literary caliber that exemplifies the prize’s founding principles. The winner also receives a publishing contract with Algonquin Books.

The intention of The Penn/Bellwether prize is to support writers whose unpublished works support positive social change, and to “encourage writers, publishers, and readers to consider how fiction engages visions of social change and human justice.”

Will my work qualify? I hope so.

In my opinion, we cannot even consider human justice unless we first treasure the nature of a human being, that part which is immaterial and, I believe, comes from God. The natural law is a deep sense of the moral good, that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice. It follows then that we should never use people as a mere means to our own ends as happens in my novel, ABSENCE, which may be my favorite of all the novels I’ve written because it is based on my belief in the divine value of a human being.

Here is a brief synopsis:
Throw out any preconception you may have of a novel about a southern, peanut farmer. Absence is a mystery, in the deepest sense of the word, about marriage, about fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters; all backed into corners and at odds with each other as they struggle with their human nature, and the nature of the world. The story centers around James Greene and one life-changing decision he makes. James’s family has farmed near the Chattahoochee River for three generations. He is a Vietnam veteran, seen by his wife, Katy, as strong as steel. His son, William, sees his father as a good man, almost a king; but James sees himself as a man who will stoop as low as he has to, to get what he wants. And he does just that—with destructive repercussions that alienate his entire family. And yet, even here, love can be found, along with its mystery.

The underpinnings of the novel are two:

1) The inevitable distance between human nature, which is possible to control, and the nature of the world which is impossible to control. i.e. moral evil vs. natural evil–and yet, humanity must deal with both.

2) The mystery of human nature’s innate ability to choose that which can be curative, or destructive.

I am a fiction writer who sees the world through the lens of my belief in God, and write what I believe is good fiction about that. OF COURSE, I ALWAYS INTEND A GOOD STORY, one that can be read and enjoyed with, or without, acknowledging its underpinnings

I would like my work to be taken seriously by today’s literary establishment, but I think that establishment is afraid of showing the depth of religious themes in fiction. And yet, according to the latest Gallup Poll, 89 % of Americans say they believe in God. Christianity is the world’s largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers, or 33% of the global population. Still, this is a largely ignored readership when it comes to realistic fiction with an underpinning of faith. One has only to consider works by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, and countless others, to see its value. The literary establishment’s fear might be their feeling that dogma constrains the artist; but for me as a fiction writer, dogma is a guarantee of mystery, and as Walker Percy said, “a warrant to explore the mystery.” Take for example, Christianity’s benchmark, LOVE. Who can understand its joys and sufferings without faith?

  1. GP Cox says:

    The book sounds great – I’m certain you have a definite chance and I wish you the best of luck!!


  2. If anybody’s work qualifies, it’s yours. Go for it girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kph52013 says:

    You are the sweetest person, Debra!!!


  4. “Absence” sounds wonderfully intriguing. Good luck, Kaye!

    Liked by 1 person

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