Mudbound won the 2006
Bellwether Prize for Fiction, a
prize fully-funded by author Barbara
Kingsolver, awarded to previously unpublished first novels that
address issues of social justice. The
prize, awarded in even-numbered years,
consists of a $25,000 cash payment to
the author of the winning manuscript,
and guaranteed publication by a major
publisher. The Bellwether Prize is the
only major North American endowment or
prize for the arts that specifically
seeks to support literature of social
Mudbound is Hillary Jordan's first novel. After nearly 15 years working full-time as an advertising copywriter, she left to pursue her own writing, working on Mudbound for seven years. Inspired by stories of her grandparents' farm in Arkansas, the seeds of the novel emerged when Jordan was in graduate school. Assigned to write a few pages in the voice of a family member, she began to write about the farm in her grandmother's voice. As Jordan recounts in the interview you'll find at BookBrowse:
"It was a
primitive place, an unpainted shotgun
shack with no electricity, no running
water and no telephone. They named it "Mudbound"
because whenever it rained, the roads
would flood and they'd be stranded for
Though they'd only lived there for a year, my mother, aunt and grandmother spoke of Mudbound often, laughing and shaking their heads by turns, depending on whether the story in question was funny or horrifying. Often they were both, as Southern stories tend to be. I loved listening to them, even the ones I'd heard dozens of times before. They were a peephole into a strange and marvelous world; a world full of contradictions, of terrible beauty...
To my mother and aunt, their year on the farm was a grand adventure; and indeed, that was how all their stories portrayed it. It was not until much later that I realized what an ordeal that year must have been for her - a city-bred woman with two young children - and that, in fact, these were stories of survival." More ...
This article was originally published in March 2008, and has been updated for the
March 2009 paperback release.
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