New York Times bestselling writer and Berea College professor Silas House has been awarded a Duggins Prize for Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist, the largest prize given to an LGBTQ writer in the United States. The award is given annually by Lambda Literary to two novelists.
House has gained a reputation as one of the most visible LGBTQ people in the South, particularly in Appalachia and Kentucky, and this award focuses on his work about LGBTQ rural people. The 2018 Hulu documentary “Hillbilly,” winner of the Media Prize from the Foreign Press Association and many other honors, featured House in one of the leading roles. His 2018 novel “Southernmost” is currently in development as a motion picture. House’s forthcoming novel, Lark Ascending, will be published in September. House has written extensively on LGBTQ issues for the national media, including for The New York Times, The Advocate and other publications.
“I’ve been a published writer for about 20 years now and if I have done anything worthwhile in that time I hope that I have made another LGBTQ person—especially those living in rural places—feel seen and heard the way previous winners of this prize…made me feel seen and heard as a young gay man living in a rural place,” House said in his acceptance speech, filmed for the Lambda Literary Awards, which will happen virtually this year due to the Covid pandemic.
House is a native of southeastern Kentucky, and now lives in Lexington. He serves on the fiction faculty at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University and as the NEH Chair of Appalachian Studies at Berea College. He is the author of seven novels, one book of creative nonfiction and three plays. Last year he was given the Artist Award from the Governor’s Awards for the Arts to honor his service to the arts in the commonwealth. House is the winner of the Storylines Prize from the New York Public Library/NAV Foundation, the Bank Street College Book of the Year Award, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Judy Gaines Young Book Award and many others. He is a former commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Dedicated to the memory of author and journalist Jim Duggins, this prize honors LGBTQ-identified authors who have published multiple novels, have a strong reputation and following and show promise to continue publishing high quality work for years to come. The award is made possible by the James Duggins, PhD Fund for Outstanding Mid-Career LGBTQ Novelists, a fund of the Horizons Foundation, and includes a cash prize of $5,000. Previous winners include Dorothy Allison, Jim Grimsely, Stacey D’Erasmo, and others. This year, the two winners were House and Vi Khi Nao. Judge Sarah Gerard and Calvin Gimpelevich honored Nao and House for their prolific contributions to the literary world and their communities.
A Q&A with House about his award can be found here.