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Thursday, March 19th, 2009 by

The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters recently named NewSouth authors John Pritchard and Rheta Grimsley Johnson to a short list of nominees for their annual awards ceremonies. Previous winners included such celebrated novelists as Richard Ford and Shelby Foote.

John Pritchard, a college-level English teacher in Memphis, Tennessee, is nominated in the fiction category for his second novel The Yazoo Blues. The Yazoo Blues is the hilarious sequel to his critically acclaimed debut novella Junior Ray, both of which are set in Pritchard’s birthplace, the Mississippi Delta. Pritchard received high praise from Publisher’s Weekly, which awarded The Yazoo Blues a starred review, calling it “laugh out loud” and “insightful.”

Mississippi’s Rheta Grimsley Johnson is nominated in the non-fiction category for Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana, which is equal parts memoir and travelogue of her time spent in Southwest Louisiana’s Cajun Country. She has covered the South for over three decades as a newspaper reporter and columnist, writing about ordinary but fascinating people, mining for universal meaning in individual stories. Syndicated today by King Features of New York, Johnson’s column appears in fifty newspapers nationwide.

Since 1978, The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters annually recognizes the greatest accomplishments in art, music, literature, and photography among current Mississippi residents, or former ones with continued, significant ties to the state. Winners in each category receive a cash award of $1,000. Judges for the awards are chosen from out of state and are prominent in their respective fields.

This year’s MIAL awards gala marks the 30th anniversary of the foundation and will be held on June 13, in Laurel, Mississippi at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, accompanied by an art exhibition of previous winners from the pasty thirty years.

The Yazoo Blues and Poor Man’s Provence are available directly from NewSouth Books or your favorite local or online book retailer.

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