Morris among winners of Mississippi Library Association 2020 Mississippi Author Awards

Dr. Morris and winning book
September 21st, 2020     Culture & Entertainment

The Mississippi Library Association has announced the winners in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children’s Literature for the 2020 Mississippi Author Awards and they include New Albany native Dr. Joe Edd Morris.

The Mississippi Authors Awards seek to recognize and encourage Mississippi authors and promote interest in local authors’ books, whether the books are about Mississippi or another subject. MLA will honor the winners at the 2020 MLA Virtual Conference ( on Thursday, Oct. 15, from 6-7:30 p.m.


Joe Edd Morris: 2020 MLA Winner for Fiction – The Prison

This is a sequel to Morris’ previous novel, Land Where My Fathers Died, for which he won the Mississippi Library Association award in 2003.

Born in New Albany, Mississippi, Joe Edd Morris, went on to receive degrees in philosophy (B. A. Millsaps College), theology (M. Div., Candler School of Theology, Emory University), and psychology (Ph. D., University of Mississippi). His scholarly focus has been reflected in his nonfiction works: 10 Things I wish Jesus Hadn’t Said ; New Testament Stories ; Old Testament Stories ; Revival of the Gnostic Heresy: Fundamentalism ; The Christian Right: Neither Christian Nor Right ; and his fiction works: Land Where My Fathers Died and The Last Page.

Morris is a licensed psychologist and jury consultant, maintaining his private practice for thirty years while also teaching at several university and community colleges. He has served as a United Methodist minister in Mississippi, Georgia, Scotland, Colorado, and Washington D.C. including a year serving as chaplain on the DEWline above the Arctic Circle.


Kiese Laymon: 2020 MLA Winner for Non-Fiction – Heavy: An American Memoir

Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to winning this year’s Mississippi Library Association’s Mississippi Author Award for Non-Fiction, his bestselling memoir has won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, the Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media, and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times.

He is a graduate of Oberlin College and he holds an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. He is the Hubert H. McAlexander Chair of English at the University of Mississippi, and recipient of 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard. He proudly founded “The Catherine Coleman Literary Arts and Justice Initiative,” a program aimed at getting Mississippi kids and their parents more comfortable reading, writing, revising, and sharing.

Jo Watson Hackl: 2020 MLA Winner for Juvenile – Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe

Author Jo Watson Hackl is the founder of and a lawyer with Wyche, PA. Her debut novel, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe, was published by Random House Books for Young Readers in July 2018. She received her B.A. from Millsaps College and her J.D. from Yale Law School.

In her community, Jo works on a number of creative, educational, business, and philanthropic initiatives. She is a Liberty Fellow and a Riley Fellow and has been recognized as a “Woman of Achievement” by the Greenville YWCA. Jo’s writing has been published by The Pen and Palette, the Emrys Literary Journal, The Clearinghouse Review, and Greenville County Museum of Art’s Hearing Helen.

Jo lives in Greenville, SC with her husband and three children. They all take to the woods whenever they can.


The Mississippi Library Association has bestowed the Mississippi Author Award since 1987.

Past winners include Jesmyn Ward, Greg Iles, Julie Cantrell, Nevada Barr, Donna Tartt, John Grisham, Ellen Gilchrist, Larry Brown and Richard Ford.

For a full list of past winners of the MLA Mississippi Author Awards, visit

About The Mississippi Library Association

The mission of the Mississippi Library Association is to provide professional leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

MLA is a chapter of the American Library Association and the Southeastern Library Association.


Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.

About NEMiss.NEWS

NEMiss.NEWS is a locally owned and operated online news magazine containing news, information, opinion, etc. of interest to residents of Northeast Mississippi. NEMiss.NEWS was founded in 2014 and is a division of Shivimage, LLC, and began publishing in early 2015. read more>>

Northeast Mississippi's Online News Source
%d bloggers like this: