Robert Olmstead, professor of English and director of OWU’s creative writing program, once again has been honored with the Ohioana Prize for Fiction.
The Coldest Night, the last in a trilogy featuring the Childs family of soldiers, tells the story of young Henry Childs’ heartbreak as the love of his life is snatched from him, his subsequent enlistment in the Marines, his arrival in Korea at the time of one of the “forgotten” war’s most decisive and horrendous battles, and his return to the United States as a far-less-innocent man. The book also was selected as an Editors’ Pick for Amazon’s Best of 2012 list, a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year, and Kirkus Reviews’ Top 25 Fiction Books of 2012.
The first book in the trilogy, Coal Black Horse, was honored with the Heartland Prize for Fiction, and was named a #1 Book Sense Pick and a Borders Original Voices choice. It, too, was selected as the Ohioana Fiction winner in 2008, and was the Choose to Read Ohio adult title.
The second book, Far Bright Star, which deals dramatically with the search for Pancho Villa, received the Spur Award for best Western short novel from the Western Writers of America. These awards are presented for distinguished writing in the Western field.
The Ohioana Book Awards are given annually to recognize and honor outstanding books published the previous year by authors who were born in Ohio or who have lived in Ohio for at least five years, the exception being a book about Ohio or an Ohioan and, this year’s special category, fiction set in Ohio. Approximately 500-800 books are reviewed annually.
In addition to winning the Ohioana Award, The Coldest Night is a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for fiction. This prize, first awarded in 2006, is the only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace. The Dayton Literary Peace Prize invites nominations in adult fiction and nonfiction books published within the past year that have led readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions, and political points of view.
Olmstead previously served as senior writer in residence at Dickinson College and as director of the creative writing program at Boise State University. He has been the recipient of both a Guggenheim fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.