Daily Archives: April 23, 2015

Cookbooks Authors at Southern Kentucky Book Festival


Southern Kentucky Bookfest panel session on Cookbooks

This year’s Southern Kentucky Bookfest held a morning session featuring cookbooks, in which a panel of five authors briefly discussed their new books and answered questions from the audience at the end. WKU Libraries Department of Library Public Services Head Dr. Brian Coutts moderated the session.


Gaylord Brewer, author of
The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink & Desire

Gaylord Brewer, an English professor at MTSU and author of nine books of poetry and 800 other poems, spoke about his newest book The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink & Desire. Inspired by cooking elaborate meals and meeting chefs, his book is filled with great recipes and humorous commentary that leaves readers laughing out loud.


Linda Hawkins, author of
Southern Seasons with Memory Making Recipes

Morgantown, KY native Linda Hawkins has previously taught school, ran a daycare, and served as a crisis counselor for abused women and children and is now an award winning author. Her newest book Southern Seasons with Memory Making Recipes features her favorite recipes and remembrances to show readers how to get families involved in making meals and creating lasting memories.


John van Willigen, author of Kentucky Cookbook Heritage

John Van Willigen, professor emeritus of Anthropology at UK, has authored many books from Anthropology to tobacco culture to his classic Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950. With his new book Kentucky Cookbook Heritage he explores two hundred years of Southern cuisine and culture through a diverse range of topics from Nancy Green, the original Aunt Jemima, to Duncan Hines and charity cookbooks.


Fiona Young-Brown, author of
A Culinary History of Kentucky

Fiona Young-Brown is a native of the United Kingdom, with a BA from the University of Hull, and Iowa transplant with graduate degrees in Women’s Studies and Japanese from the University of Iowa. Now writing local history, she discussed her newest book A Culinary History of Kentucky which includes delicious recipes like Mafia Jam Cake and Jefferson Davis Pie.

Aimee Zaring, author of Flavors From Home

Aimee Zaring, author of Flavors From Home

Aimee Zaring has an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding and has taught ESL for Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Jefferson County Schools, and Global LT. In her book Flavors From Home she shares stories from Kentucky’s various refugee communities and the recipes of their traditional dishes from steamed dumplings from Bhutan to twice fried green plantains from Cuba. This book is about how food gives refugees comforts from home while expanding cuisine in Kentucky.

Brian Coutts with cookbook authors (left to right) Gaylord Brewer, Linda Hawkins, John van Willigen, Fiona Young-Brown, and Aimee Zaring

Brian Coutts with cookbook authors (left to right) Gaylord Brewer, Linda Hawkins, John van Willigen, Fiona Young-Brown, and Aimee Zaring

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Biographer Kiran Bhatraju awarded the 2015 Kentucky Literary Award

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest partnership announced Kiran Bhatraju as

KLA Revisedsmallerversionthe winner of this year’s Kentucky Literary Award for his book Mud Creek Medicine: the Life of Eula Hall and the Fight for Appalachia. First awarded in 2003 and reintroduced in 2012 after a brief hiatus, the Kentucky Literary Award is given to an author from Kentucky or one whose book has a strong Kentucky theme. Fiction and non-fiction books are recognized in alternating years.

From the publisher’s description: “Mud Creek Medicine chronicles life of an iconoclastic woman with a resolute spirit to help her people. Eula Hall, born into abject poverty in Greasy Creek, Kentucky, found herself, through sheer determination and will, at the center of a century-long struggle to lift up a part of America that is too often forgotten. Through countless interviews and meticulous research, Kiran Bhatraju deftly traces Eula’s life from impoverished hired girl to community activist… Eula’s story shows how one woman could make a difference through a clear-eyed understanding of the nexus between politics, wealth, labor, and disease.”Bhatraju

Bhatraju is a native of eastern Kentucky. His father, an immigrant from India, worked as a physician with Eula Hall at the Mud Creek Clinic and Pikeville Medical Center for two decades, where Kiran first met Eula Hall. Bhatraju began his career working on poverty issues for Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) on Capitol Hill where he first began researching Eula’s life. His writings have been featured in various magazines and newspapers including The Courier-Journal of Louisville and the Lexington Herald-Leader. He is currently Founder and CEO of Arcadia Power, a renewable energy company, and he is working on his second book, an oral history of twentieth century immigrant physicians throughout the US. Kiran lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Sara.

“Heroes are not perfect, even in comic books.  In Mud Creek Medicine, author Kiran Bjatraju portrays Eula Hall as a paradox–the compassionate woman committed to the medical welfare of those in her region of Appalachia but infused with passion, righteous anger and occasionally exhibiting crude behavior.  She finds ways to get things done, regardless of opposition from the establishment, neighbors, and even her own family.  Despite the sometimes trying circumstances of Eula’s life, this well written biography documents a woman who cares, perseveres and triumphs,” said Jonathan Jeffrey, Department Head for Library Special Collections and member of the selection committee for the award.

The award announcement was made at the Knicely Conference Center at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest Meet the Authors Reception on Friday, April 17–the night before the main Book Fest event. Bhatraju was recognized with a commemorative certificate and a monetary gift.

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest partners include Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Warren County Public Library, and the Western Kentucky University Libraries.  The award was made possible with the generous support of Friends of WKU Libraries. For more information about the award go to sokybookfest.org.

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