Michele Moore (W '91) has won the David J. Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction.
Michele Moore (W '91) has won the 2016 David J. Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction for her novel The Cigar Factory (Univ. Of South Carolina Press). The annual award honors novels that are a combination of excellent fiction writing and excellent American history.
The Langum award website praises Moore’s “marvelous debut” that “traces the lives of two working class families in Charleston during the years 1917-1946. The families are similar in many ways: devout and practicing Roman Catholics, headed by matriarchs who work in the local cigar factory, both struggling mightily for survival in severely limited circumstances. Yet they are dissimilar in ways crucial for Charleston in these years: one family is black and the other white, they attend separate churches, the matriarchs work in the cigar factory in segregated tasks and floors, use different restrooms, and receive different wages. Union organization and a strike begin a growing awareness by these two women of each other’s existence and the similarities of their and their families’ lives.”
The award states that Moore describes the difficult lives of the two families, their joys and sorrows, “with great sensitivity and beauty,” and her selective use of the Gullah dialect “adds to its verisimilitude.”