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North Carolina book awards honor greats

The annual meeting of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association on Nov. 22 in downtown Raleigh will recognize such greats as Bill Friday, Andy Griffith and Doc Watson and include an evening banquet which culminates with the North Carolina Book Awards, presented to the North Carolina residents judged to have authored the year’s best works of nonfiction, fiction, poetry and juvenile literature.
The North Carolina Book Award recipients reflect the breadth of the state’s literary community. David Cecelski of Durham receives the Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction for “The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War.” The product of years of exhaustive research, the book profiles a slave rebel, radical abolitionist, Union spy, freedom fighter, organizer of the freedmen’s conventions and state senator, who in Cecelski’s words, “burned with an incandescent passion against tyranny and injustice.” In 2002, Cecelski won the last Mayflower Cup for “The Waterman’s Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina.” The Ragan Award is the successor to the Mayflower Cup. 
Terry Roberts of Asheville and Chapel Hill receives the 2013 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction for “A Short Time to Stay Here,” a novel centered on the true story of German prisoners of war interned at Hot Springs during World War I. Writer Lee Smith commends the book for its “evocative setting” and “highly original yet authentic characters.”
Former North Carolina Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer of Sylva receives the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for her volume titled “Descent.” The collection, the sixth by Byer, plays upon themes of family and race. Byer is a previous winner of the award in 1998 for “Black Shawl.” Incumbent Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti will make the presentation.
Kelly Starling Lyons of Raleigh receives the American Association of University Women Award for Juvenile Literature for “Tea Cakes for Tosh,” the story of an African-American boy who helps his grandmother remember an important family story. The award is the latest in a parade of honors that have come to the author and book.
Other presentations on Nov. 22 highlight lifetime achievement. Freddie Parker of Durham, history professor at North Carolina Central University, receives the Christopher Crittenden Memorial Award for contributions to North Carolina history. A member of the North Carolina Historical Commission, Parker has been a reliable supporter of interpretive programs at historic sites across the state. Margaret Maron of Johnston County, the acclaimed mystery writer, receives the R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award for literary achievement. Samm-Art Williams of Burgaw is honored with the Hardee Rives Dramatic Arts Award for his career on the New York stage and for his numerous television productions.
The day begins at 1:30 p.m., with honors for Friday, Griffith, Watson and others. A host of presenters will recall the “giants” who died last year and reflect on how they shaped North Carolina. The proceedings begin with Georgann Eubanks of Carrboro recalling Doris Betts, who died in 2012, and other writers represented in her three-volume “Literary Trails of North Carolina.”

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