TROY—Acclaimed author Bobbie Ann Mason was presented the Hall-Waters Prize today by Troy University in recognition of her significant contributions to Southern literature.
The University honored Mason during a luncheon at the Troy Campus. She called the award a great honor.
"I am deeply honored to receive this prize, and touched that it was established (by Wade Hall) in honor of his parents," Mason said. "I think honoring one's parents is the worthiest reason to establish an award."
The Hall-Waters Prize is endowed by TROY alumnus Dr. Wade Hall, an author, former member of the faculty at the University of Florida and professor emeritus of English at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY. Dr. Hall, a native of Bullock County, endowed the prize as a memorial to his parents, Wade Hall Sr. and Sarah Elizabeth Waters Hall.
The award is presented regularly to individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern heritage and culture in history, literature or the arts. Past recipients include Shirley Ann Grau, Rick Bragg, Sena Jeter Naslund and U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
Dr. Steven Cooper, chair of the Department of English at the Troy Campus, praised Mason for her ability to "transform the everyday" in her writing.
"She writes about the New South, the South that we live in," Dr. Cooper said. "But she is also able to render the older South and really capture what it was like in the rural South of the early 1900s."
A native of Kentucky, Mason graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1962 and then moved to New York City. However, she would find inspiration for her writing in the lives of people in her home state.
"I had to leave Kentucky in order to find that the material for my fiction was right there in Kentucky," she said.
Mason is the author of five novels, five short-story collections, a memoir, and a biography of Elvis Presley for Penguin Publishing's popular "Lives" series. Her 1980 New Yorker debut, "Shiloh" remains one of the most anthologized short stories in contemporary American literature, and her 1985 novel, "In Country," dealing with the aftereffects of the Vietnam War, is considered a classic.
Both the novel "Feather Crowns" (1993) and the story collection "Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail" (2002) won the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. Her memoir/family history, "Clear Springs" (1999), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Mason is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Prize, and the Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among other honors.