West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) has announced the 2018-19 One Book Read. This year’s book is Water Street by Kentucky author Crystal Wilkinson. She is an award-winning feminist poet, novelist, memoirist, and professor from Indian Creek. A founding member of the Affrilachian Poets Collective, Wilkinson, who lives in Lexington, is currently Associate Professor of English in the Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of Kentucky.
The book tells the stories of the residents of Water Street, hardworking, God-fearing people who live in a seemingly safe and insulated neighborhood within a small Kentucky town: "Water Street is a place where mothers can turn their backs to flip a pancake or cornmeal hoecake on the stove and know our children are safe." But all is not as it seems as the secret lives of neighbors and friends are revealed in interconnected tales of love, loss, truth, and tragedy.
In this critically acclaimed short story collection, Wilkinson peels back the intricate layers that form the fabric of this community and its inhabitants revealing emotionally raw, multifaceted tales of race, class, gender, mental illness, and interpersonal relationships. The thirteen succinct stories offer fragmented glimpses of an overarching narrative that emerges, lyrical and fierce.
"This book has mature themes that will encourage critical thinking and discussion of complex social issues,” said Tammy Thompson, WKCTC One Book Read Committee co-chair. “The characters and topics are from real life, making them not only interesting, but relevant to our lives today. Being open to difficult conversations is what Water Street is all about and why we continue to build and expand our One Book Read."
Water Street was a finalist for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. Wilkinson's first book, Blackberries, Blackberries won the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature, and her third book, The Birds of Opulence, won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, The Judy Young Gaines Prize for Fiction, The Appalachian Book of the Year and the Weatherford Award. Her work-fiction, poetry, memoir-has been widely anthologized and published in countless journals and she was recently named a Southerner of the Year.
The One Book Read of Water Street has been made possible through a matching grant from Kentucky Humanities in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Events will kick off in March. For more information about the book, Crystal Wilkinson, and to access WKCTC's Discussion Guide for the book, please visit onebookread.com.