Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8:16 PM
Author Jaimy Gordon received first prize in the fifth annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award competition, presented by Castleton Lyons and Thoroughbred Times, during a reception Wednesday evening at Castleton Lyons in Lexington.
She won for her novel Lord of Misrule (Publisher: McPherson & Co.), an alternately dark and humorous tale of life on the backstretch of a fictional bottom-rung West Virginia racetrack. Lord of Misrule had previously been honored as the 2010 National Book Award winner and had been named a finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award, two of the most prestigious honors in American writing. As winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, Gordon received a $10,000 check and a trophy made of custom-designed Irish crystal.
The author, who lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has worked in the stable areas of racetracks not unlike her fictional Indian Mound Downs. Presently a professor in Western Michigan University’s MFA program, Gordon’s three previous novels included the fantasy cult classic Shamp of the City-Solo.
Lord of Misrule is the first work of fiction to win the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, which began in 2006 as the Castleton Lyons/Thoroughbred Times Book Award. The award was renamed in 2009 to honor the late Dr. Ryan, whose love of literature and Thoroughbreds led him to launch a prize recognizing the best writing with racing backdrop.
“This is by far the best fiction book on racing ever entered in the competition,” noted lead judge Kay Coyte, of the Washington Post. “It’s a novel that lives and breathes racing, and in particular, the characters that populate the backstretch. What a joy to see someone with a gift for writing create fully rounded racetrack characters instead of Runyonesque stereotypes.”
Fellow judges Bill Mooney and Joe Drape, each a past winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, were also high in their praise of the current recipient. Mooney referred to Lord of Misrule as “one of the best novels ever set within a horse racing theme,” while Drape called it “true literature.” Drape went on to say that “Lord of Misrule raises the bar on what was already a very good award … I’m extremely proud of being the inaugural winner (with Black Maestro). But, hell, being on a list with Lord of Misrule is the cherry on top.”
Other finalists for 2010 were How Kentucky Became Southern, by Maryjean Wall (Publisher: University Press of Kentucky), and Secretariat’s Meadow, by Kate Chenery Tweedy and Leeanne Ladin (Publisher: Dementi Milestone Publishing). Each finalist receives $1,000 and an Irish crystal trophy.
Video from the 2010 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award ceremony:
For more from Jaime Gordon, click here.
For Castleton Lyons' Shane Ryan, click here.
For THOROUGHBRED TIMES editor Mark Simon, click here.
For Kay Coyte, click here.
For Leeane Ladin, click here.
For Maryjean Wall, click here.
For Kate Chenery Tweedy, click here.
Past winners of Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award:
For more information on the Book Award, click here