We’re thrilled to announce the latest winner of the Lee Smith Novel Prize: Beaut, by Donald Morrill.
Beaut is the unforgettable first-person account of a woman whose difficult children (and in particular her meth-addicted son known as “the Monster”) have ruled and overruled her life. As her children work variously to protect her, win her favor, and borrow her money, she sits in an apartment near a ring road of Des Moines typing the poetic and wry account of her life. She is processing two last-minute surprises: the prospect of new love and a house fire that may be the work of her troubled son. She writes, “I’m in need of a great reckoning.” With this reckoning, for herself and for another who is initially unnamed, she confronts her wobbly circumstances, her charge as a mother and grandmother, and her own desires for the future. In the telling, she revisits an early love affair, weighs a mother’s warring love and ambivalence, and illuminates the mysteries of inheritance, until finally, her family must radically revise their image of who she is—their mother, the ultimate assumption in their lives.
The purpose of the Lee Smith Novel Prize is to recognize and publish authors living in, writing about, or originally from the U.S. South. Donald Morrill, who currently teaches at the University of Tampa, is an esteemed poet and nonfiction writer, and we could not be more excited to publish his first novel!
Thanks to all who submitted, and congratulations to Don!