Monday, March 28, 2011

DAMNATION ROAD wins Spur Award

Max McCoy has won a 2011 Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for his novel, Damnation Road. Set in Oklahoma Territory at the turn of the last century, the book continues the story of irascible outlaw Jacob Gamble, who is now nearing fifty and confronted by a new west of telephones, smokeless powder and moving pictures. Damnation Road, which was named the best mass market original novel by the WWA, was published in September by Kensington, New York. It is the final novel in McCoy’s western noir trilogy. The first book, Hellfire Canyon, which introduced Jacob Gamble at age 13 during the Civil War, also won a Spur and was named a 2008 Kansas Notable Book by the state library.

This year’s awards were announced Monday by the Western Writers of America. Other winners include True Grit, a film by Joel and Ethan Coen, for best drama, and The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers, for best historical nonfiction. The awards will be presented at WWA’s annual convention June 21-25 at Bismarck, N.D.

The Spur Awards, given annually for distinguished writing about the American West, are among the oldest and most prestigious in American literature. In 1953, when the awards were established by WWA, western fiction was a staple of American publishing. At the time awards were given to the best western novel, best historical novel, best juvenile, and best short story. Since then the awards have been broadened to include other types of writing about the West. Today, Spurs are offered for the best western novel (short novel), best novel of the west (long novel), best original paperback novel, best short story, best short nonfiction. Also, best contemporary nonfiction, best biography, best history, best juvenile fiction and nonfiction, best TV or motion picture drama, best TV or motion picture documentary, and best first novel (called The Medicine Pipe Bearer's Award). Winners of the Spur Awards in previous years include Larry McMurtry for Lonesome Dove, Michael Blake for Dances With Wolves, Glendon Swarthout for The Shootist, and Tony Hillerman for Skinwalker.