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Winners of N.C. Book Awards include Daniel Wallace

RALEIGH ó Devilish magic, a pilgrim’s journey and the rough-and-tumble world of North Carolina politics are among subjects of books receiving the 2008 North Carolina Book Awards, which will be presented on Saturday in Raleigh at the joint meeting of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association and the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies.
Rob Christensen exposes many surprises in “The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics,” an examination of a century of North Carolina politics. The title receives the Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction.
It introduces remarkable characters, including a U.S. senator who was a Nazi sympathizer, a gubernatorial candidate who was a Soviet agent and a senator who helped bring down Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon.
Christensen answers the question of how one state could be represented by Jesse Helms and John Edwards at the same time. North Carolina was intensely divided long before talk of red states or blue states, but Christensen helps readers make sense of it all.
“Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician” by Daniel Wallace receives the Sir Walter Award for Fiction and is a tale of Henry Walker’s deal with the devil to master illusion and magic. Mr. Sebastian teaches the magic, and in the process, Walker makes his sister disappear and cannot reclaim her and has other real and surreal experiences.
Wallace also wrote “Big Fish,” which was made into a movie, and this tale, too, explores what is or is not real in a world of tricksters and duality.
Michael Chitwood takes readers on a spiritual journey in “Spill,” his sixth book of poetry, which receives the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry. Grounded in an airport terminal with a broken down church van, Chitwood starts a journey of pious certainty, continues in a search for holiness in the terrestrial and ends with a contemplative examination of the course of life and the wisdom of the journey. Chitwood’s thoughtful dialogue will engage many readers.
“About Habitats: Wetlands,” by Cathryn Sill, teaches children what wetlands are in simple language and receives the American Association of University Women Award for Juvenile Literature.
The plants and animals that live in wetlands are beautifully detailed by Sill’s husband, wildlife illustrator John Sill. In addition to explaining how wetlands help maintain the balance in the environment, the book includes a glossary and afterword with many details.
John Haley of Wilmington receives the Christopher Crittenden Memorial Award for contributions to North Carolina history. John Ehle of Winston-Salem receives the R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award for lifetime literary achievement.
The Phoenix Society for African American Research in Tarboro and the Greensboro Historical Museum will receive the Albert Ray Newsome Award presented by the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies.

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