The Mississippi Library Association has announced that Michael Farris Smith of Columbus is the recipient of its 2014 Mississippi Author Award for fiction. Smith is being recognized for his novel “Rivers,” released by Simon & Schuster in September 2013.
Former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat is the winner in the non-fiction category for his memoir, “The Education of a Lifetime.”
Smith was humbled by news of his award.
“I was very happy,” he said Friday. “It’s always nice to have your homeplace backing you up, and that’s the way this made me feel.”
When he first learned of his nomination, Smith remembers thinking this was a tough year to be among the candidates.
“It was a big year: There were at least six or seven good books from Mississippi writers,” he said, in praise of the state’s literary output. “Any time you start looking at competing against other writers in Mississippi, that’s a pretty stout lineup.”
Previous winners of the fiction award include John Grisham, Ellen Gilchrist and Larry Brown. Deborah Johnson of Columbus won it in 2010.
The award comes near the scheduled Sept. 10 release of “Rivers” in paperback in bookstores and online. The novel is set on the Gulf Coast, after never-ending hurricanes have caused the government to abandon everything below a line 90 miles north of the devastated region.
Smith and Khayat will be honored at a banquet in Vicksburg Oct. 16, as part of the Mississippi Library Association’s annual conference.
For more information about Smith and his work, visit michaelfarrissmith.com.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.