English professor Liza Wieland had no idea when she opened her email recently that she had been chosen for a major award.

East Carolina University English professor Liza Wieland had no idea when she opened her email recently that she had been chosen for a major award.

The Fellowship of Southern Writers, a prestigious nonprofit organization that encourages the creation and development of literature in the South, has named Wieland the winner of its 2017 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction. The award, which is given every other year, will be presented at the Fellowship’s meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee in November.

The award recognizes a writer’s entire body of work. Past winners include Steve Yarbrough, Cormac McCarthy and Lee Smith.

“You don’t apply for it, or gather a package or get nominated,” Wieland said. “It just sort of comes in an email.”

Wieland is the author of three collections of short fiction, four novels and a volume of poems.Wieland is the author of three collections of short fiction, four novels and a volume of poems.

The members of the group choose the winner based on their own judgment of the writer’s literary achievements. Wieland is the author of eight books: three collections of short fiction, “Quickening” (2011), “You Can Sleep While I Drive” (1999) and Discovering America (1994); four novels, “Land of Enchantment” (2015), “A Watch of Nightingales” (2009), “Bombshell” (2001) and “The Names of the Lost” (1992); and a volume of poems, “Near Alcatraz” (2005).

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Original story by Jules Norwood. Published April 13, 2017.

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