And There And There was Evening And There Was Morning, Essays on Illness, Loss, and Love,
by Mike Smith

The Truth About Me: Stories, by Louise Marburg

WTAW Press, a new independent nonprofit publisher, hit a home run last week when their two inaugural titles, released in 2017, each received top prizes from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, or the IPPYs. And There And There was Evening And There Was Morning, Essays on Illness, Loss, and Love, by Mike Smith received the gold medal in Essay/Creative Nonfiction, and The Truth About Me: Stories, by Louise Marburg, the gold for Short Stories. The mission of the IPPY Awards, launched in 1996, is to bring increased recognition to deserving  titles published by independent authors and publishers. The first awards program open exclusively to independents, IPPYs have been awarded to over 5,000 authors and publishers around the world.

Details on the titles from the publisher:

A moving nonfiction debut by Mississippi Delta poet Mike Smith. This memoir-in-essays tracks the loss of Smith’s first wife to cancer after the birth of the second child, offering a portrait of marriage, family, and tragedy. In honest, and at times darkly comic terms, Smith documents the strange set of coincidences between his first wife’s illness and his stepdaughter’s similar battle the year his second marriage began, and examines blended families, remarriage, helping children find ways to cope with the loss of a parent, and the influence of spirituality upon loss.

Smith currently directs the Honors Program at Delta State, and is a poet and translator whose previous books include the poetry collections Byron and Baghdad and Multiverse (BlazeVox Books), and a translation of the first part of Goethe’s Faust (Shearsman Books 2012).

Of And There Was Evening And There Was Morning, Tony D’Souza said, “The book is a stunned, out of body experience,” and of the author, “Smith, a reflective and precise writer, invites us to walk each step with him as his heart is annihilated by the sort of tragedy we beg, beg God will never come our way.” Mike Smith’s precise drawing of mourning, and love, make this an essential read, a work of solace and a testament to both darkness and light. Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling, says, “What a gift Mike Smith has given us…His prose is nuanced, his voice considered and considerate, his wisdom hard-earned but never bitter. There is beauty and solace here and gorgeous imagery.  Smith has written a book for all of us who are dying—which is to say, all of us who are living, and our lives will be the better for having read it.”

  The Truth About Me is a fiction debut of extraordinary stories by New York writer Louise Marburg, in which shortcomings, secrets, and inventions turn notions of love and self upside down. No matter what their station in life, the characters in these wry and moving stories face moments in which the shock of being and becoming comes from within. Of Marburg’s work, acclaimed short story writer Richard Bausch says her “characters go through the shifts and sunderings of life in vivid and lyrically direct prose, and your blood jumps.”

Antonya Nelson writes “[the] author’s capacious heart has room for a vast array of very different characters, each of whom receives the fully serious respect and sympathy in the telling of his or her story. In this way, every reader can find “me” here, not to mention truth.”

“These are smart and lovely stories, perceptive, compassionate, and sometimes shocking. Who are these people, so helpless in the currents that surround them? Marburg reveals their cowardice, their flaws, and their deep capacities to engage the heart,” says Roxana Robinson.

Louise Marburg studied design at the Kansas City Art Institute, is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin Division, and holds a Master’s Degree in Fiction from Columbia University’s School of the Arts.  Her stories have been published in Cold Mountain Review, The Lascaux Review Prize Anthology, Necessary Fiction, and other publications. A native of Baltimore, she lives in New York City and Connecticut with her husband, the artist Charles Marburg, and their three French Bulldogs. The Truth About Me was also recently named a finalist for the 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.

Learn more about WTAW Press and their upcoming 2018 titles here.

And you can read my LitChat Interview with WTAW Press founding director and editor-in-chief Peg Alford Pursell here.

—Lauren Alwan

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