Press Release | February 24, 2011

Award-winning Author Silas House Featured Speaker at SELC’s Event at the Virginia Festival of the Book

House to discuss how environmental destruction impacts the South’s rural landscapes, communities, and his own fiction and nonfiction

Suzanne E. Henry
On Behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center
434-972-7278 – office
434- 989-2108 -mobile
[email protected]

February 23, 2011 − The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), the largest conservation organization dedicated to protecting the environment of the Southeast, is pleased to host renowned southern writer Silas House (Eli the Good, Something’s Rising) at the upcoming Virginia Festival of the Book in a special event on Saturday, March 19, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Haven in downtown Charlottesville.

In House’s discussion, titled “Appalachia Rising: The Fight for Place,” he will discuss how environmentally destructive practices such as mountaintop removal and coal mining impact rural landscapes, communities, and his own work.

House, who grew up in Kentucky coal country, says, “When environmental damage occurs and politicians fail to listen, citizens turn to artists, writers and filmmakers to tell their stories. As a writer—and as somebody who grew up in a strip-mining town—I feel a responsibility to raise awareness about what is really happening in Appalachia and other rural areas that are so often overlooked.”

House adds, “I try to draw people’s attention to the fact there is more to this country than Los Angeles and New York City. The South’s rural countryside isn’t just a ‘flyover zone’—it’s part of what defines our cultural heritage and makes this region so unique, beautiful, and valuable.”

House also will read selections from his works. A book signing will follow (copies of Eli the Good and Something’s Rising will be available for purchase), and the public will be able to meet and talk with the author.

“We are honored to host Silas House at this year’s Festival,” says Marie Hawthorne, director of development at SELC. “His writing brings attention to the value and vulnerability of the South’s rural landscapes and communities that SELC has defended for 25 years,” she said.

At the Festival of the Book event, SELC will also announce the winners of its annual writing contest, the Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment.

More about the Reed Writing Award

Now in its 17th year, the award is named in memory of SELC founding trustee Phil Reed, a talented attorney and committed environmental advocate. Reed, a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, was one of the first practitioners of environmental law.  He worked in government, the Environmental Law Institute, a non-profit research organization, and headed the environmental practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York.

More about Silas House

Silas House is the author of four novels including Clay’s Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, The Coal Tattoo and Eli the Good, two plays, The Hurting Part and Long Time Travelling as well as Something’s Rising, a creative nonfiction book about social protest co-authored with Jason Howard.  House was selected to edit the posthumous manuscript of acclaimed writer James Still, Chinaberry, which will be published in Spring 2011. House’s young adult novel, Same Sun Here, co-written with Neela Vaswani, will be published by Candlewick Books in the fall of 2011.

House serves as the NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College and on the fiction faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing program.  A former writer-in-residence at Lincoln Memorial University, he is the creator of the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival.

House is a two-time finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize, a two-time winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, the Appalachian Writer of the Year, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Chaffin Prize for Literature, the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and many other honors. For his environmental activism House received the Helen Lewis Community Lewis Award in 2008 from the Appalachian Studies

Visit for more information on the Reed Writing Award.

See for more information on the Virginia Festival of the Book.

Are you a reporter and would like more information? Please visit our press contact page for a full list of SELC’s press contacts.