Still Come Home wins Sir Walter Raleigh award!
I extend my sincerest thanks to the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, as well as the Historical Book Club of North Carolina, for awarding my novel, Still Come Home, the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction. I once heard author Barry Lopez say, “librarians are the last great defenders of the written word” and I believe that’s true but I also count readers (and of course book clubs), art organizations, and state agencies such as the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources among those great defenders.
In other words, if you are reading this speech [or watching this video], it is highly likely that without you, this book and many others would not have been completed. A writer does her work and at least in my case I hope to do it for as long as I live—but at the end of the day it is the readers who help me finish. Without you, the work is incomplete. More than anything, that’s what receiving this award means to me—that I am not alone; that art does matter; that fiction still has the capacity to hold everyday life up to the light and find something that can transform the human heart.
After all, as one of my friends and mentors, author Jack Driscoll, says, “The impulse to write is nothing other than the impulse to love…to love language, to love people, to love the world.”
And what is our world right now, winter 2020-21? Our world is in crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside rampant racial, economic, and environmental injustice. But I believe we are simultaneously bridging the gap toward great healing and innovation as we all—artists, politicians, plants, animals, molecules, mycelium—eventually lean into a more sustainable and pervasive way to act on that very impulse.
As activist and author adrienne maree brown writes in her book Emergent Strategy: “Together we must move like waves. Have you observed the ocean? The waves are not the same over and over…The goal is not to repeat each other’s motion, but to respond in whatever way feels right in your body. The waves we create are both continuous and a one-time occurrence. We must notice what it takes to respond well. How it feels to be in a body, in a whole—separate, aligned, cohesive. Critically connected.”
The impulse to love. It’s so simple, but so optimistic. Can you feel it now? That tiny fluttering? That suggestion of hope? This is what you have affirmed in me. This is where we all have to find ourselves. This is how we begin.
Part of a book club or reading group? I’d be delighted to set up a virtual video chat! Check out the Reading Group Invitation here, click on the Book Club button, and then email me with any questions.
“What a treat to have Katey Schultz meet with our book club by Zoom. Not only did book club members experience the questions and highlights of Still Come Home in conversation with the author, but we had the opportunity to ask questions about her writing process and her research, aspects we wouldn’t have discussed otherwise. It was one of our most memorable gatherings to date!” (Julia Poole, writer, book club hostess)